Fighting menace of heart disease

I think we all realise that heart disease is a major problem. In fact the North of England is one of the worst places in the world for the condition, and it is the single greatest cause of death in this area.

These days, most people have a god idea of the type of lifestyle they need to follow to reduce their risk.

Pay attention to diet, exercise, blood pressure, cholesterol and lay off the cigarettes.

We do tend to think of it as a disease of older people, by every day it kills someone under the age of 35.

Mathew Thoppil was 31 and an active sportsman. He had a healthy lifestyle and, as a GP working in Newcastle, a comprehensive knowledge of the condition. He died suddenly, without warning, on the squash court. I it was only after a post-mortem examination that he was found to have narrowed and diseased arteries in his heart and that this had caused his depth.

If this could happen to someone like Mathew, who seemed like the last person to be affected, how can we identify the young people who are at risk and intervene to prevent such tragedies?

Cardiac Risk in the Young or ‘CRY’ is an organisation set up to help with exactly this task. Sir Ian Botham is the honorary president, and it boasts many patrons from the world who is, of course, a cross-Channel swimmer when not busy with Little Britain.

We know of many conditions which can lead to sudden cardiac death: different types of cardiiomyoptahy, which affect they heart muscle, electrical problems within the heart and problems associated with other conditions.

Some of these can be detected by screening tests which are not routinely performed.

The Mathew Thoppil Trust has been set up locally by his friends and family to increase awareness and to support research and learning about the problem. It also aims to help identify potentially-vulnerable young people through screening and advice. The Trust aims to establish support groups to families who have been affected and act as a link to CRY.

I will keep you posted and explain more about SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) in future articles. Mathew was a keen cricketer. On Sunday, August 25, at 7pm, at the Britannia Hotel, Woolsington, the Summer Cricket Ball will be held to support this work.

Tickets are £40 per head, and the evening will have a cricketing theme .

If you would like to get involved, contact Kathy McMenanim on 01666 823 272 or Liz Hayes on 01661 821 946. I hope to see you there.