Following the sudden collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba on Saturday 17th March, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) has launched a national campaign – http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31819 – to maintain pressure on the Government and professional sporting bodies to offer cardiac screening to young people who might be at risk.
Whilst Fabrice Muamba’s condition is reported to be improving, the fact that an apparently healthy, young sportsman at the peak of his career could be affected in this way, caused shock and disbelief across the world. The news immediately led to calls for athletes (whether elite or at a grassroots level) to be offered cardiac screening. CRY has been screening since its launch in 1995.
CRY Patron John Inverdale says; “The Muamba case should not be treated in isolation. It is the most high profile incident of something that happens on an all too regular basis and it is the responsibility of national governing bodies and the government to confront the issue now.
“Do we have to wait for a fatality in the premiership to wake people to the reality of the situation?”
The e-petition – which urges the Government to comprehensively review its current policy on cardiac screening – needs as many signatories as possible for the government to take the issue seriously.
Currently, the policy states that “screening should not be offered” (www.screening.nhs.uk/hcm).
Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP adds; “The loss of these young people in their prime, causes absolute devastation for their families and yet I believe there is more we could do to prevent most of these deaths.
“I believe the current screening policy is out-of-date and based on a number of flawed assumptions.”
Whilst experts and campaigners at CRY do not recommend that screening should be mandatory, the charity believes that a lack of awareness about the importance of screening will inevitably mean that young people will continue to die from the often preventable conditions that can cause sudden cardiac death in young people.
Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (age 35 and under) die suddenly from undiagnosed cardiac conditions. 80% of these deaths will occur with no prior symptoms.
Dr Steve Cox, Director of Screening at CRY adds: “One in every 300 of the young people that CRY tests will be identified with a potentially life-threatening condition. Although screening will not identify all young people at risk, in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, they have reduced the incidence of young sudden cardiac death by 90%.
“CRY wants all young people to be aware that cardiac screening of fit and healthy young people saves lives. We want young people to have the opportunity to be tested. We already provide screening services for a number of professional sporting bodies including the English Institute of Sport, the RFU, RFL, LTA and a number of FA teams including Manchester City; and test thousands of young people (aged 14-35) every year who enjoy recreational sport.
“This e-petition is to show the government that something must be done to reduce the terrible death toll of over 600 fit and healthy young people each year.”
CRY is supported by a number of its Patrons, including Pixie Lott; John Inverdale; and former professional footballers Clive Clarke (who collapsed due to a cardiac condition in 2007) and Andy Scott (diagnosed in 2005 with a serious heart defect which forced his retirement).