Health Secretary sets out strategy to tackle mortality and cardiovascular diseases

Response from Dr Steven Cox, Director of Screening at the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY):stevescreening2012

“Today’s announcement reinforces the importance of health checks to improve prevention and management of people at risk of heart conditions.

“We also hope this is will be a positive step in working with GPs to ensure the correct referrals for young people with cardiac symptoms (e.g. chest pain and passing out). Currently 20% of young sudden cardiac deaths occur in those who have experienced symptoms, so it is absolutely vital GPs know to refer these patients for the appropriate investigations.

“The Government has also focused one of their key points today on offering tests to all family members of younger people dying suddenly from cardiac conditions. Since CRY was founded in 1995 we have always said it is unacceptable that a young person has to die before we start to investigate other family members who might also be at risk of sudden death.

“Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (aged 35 and under) die from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. That’s around 600 a year but there is no official ‘action’ in place to prevent these tragedies.”

 

Dr Cox adds: “In around 80% of cases of young sudden cardiac death, there are no symptoms. This is why CRY believes screening is so vitally important and currently tests around 12,000 young people every year.

“There are international recommendations that all young people involved in organised sport should have an ECG prior to participation – and 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 89%.

“However, in CRY’s experience the vast majority of sudden deaths occur at a ‘grass roots’ level and among the general public, doing everyday activities such as swimming, sleeping or driving.

“One in every 300 of the young people that CRY tests, will be identified with a potentially life threatening condition. And, one in a hundred people will be found to have a condition that is not immediately life threatening but can cause problems in the fourth decade of life if not monitored.”

Dr Cox concludes: “Current policy states that ‘screening should not be offered’ but this position is at odds with European guidelines. CRY therefore has launched an e-petition which urges the Government to comprehensively review its current policy on cardiac screening http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31819”

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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH DR STEVEN COX OR PROFESSOR SANJAY SHARMA (CRY’S CONSULTANT CARDIOLOGIST) PLEASE CALL THE CRY PRESS OFFICE ON 020 7112 4905 / 0770 948 7959 OR EMAIL jo.hudson@trinitypr.co.uk