The father of an Ulster teenager who died from heart failure yesterday urged other young people to get screened for undetected conditions.
John Lundy, whose 19-year-old son Aaron died after a cardiac arrest, urged families to get their children checked out for undiagnosed heart defects.
Aaron from Portstewart died when he fell ill after playing a football match in 1999.
The dangers posed by underlying heart conditions in young people was also tragically demonstrated in 2004 when captain Cormac McAnallen, 24, and promising Irish rugby player John McCall, 18, from Armagh died within two months of each other after suffering heart failure.
"the death of a young person is heartbreaking and devastating for any family," said Mr Lundy.
Eight young people die every week in the UK and one in every 300 apparently fit and healthy young people have an underlying condition. This really is a silent killer in our midst."
Mr Lundy now works with the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY). He urged people aged between 14 and 35 to attend one of CRY's regular screening clinics at the University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus.
"At CRY, we would encourage all families to have their children screened for any underlying heart conditions," he said.
"It is essential that anyone with a condition knows about it. If they continue to participate in sport or take particular medication, for example, they could be putting their lives at risk. They may not show any symptoms or warning signs."
Dr Steve Cox, deputy chief executive of CRY, said most abnormalities could be diagnosed simply by an ECG (electrocardiogram) test.
"The test is quick and painless. If necessary further echocardiogram (ultrasound scan of the heart) can be taken to provide further clarity."
He said the screening needed to be extended to all young people as the only accurate means of diagnosis is through an ECG.
Screening clinics will also help raise the profile of these conditions.
For details or to book an appointment call 01737 363 222 or visit https://www.c-r-y.org.uk/;