Heart-screening boost

Organisers of a heart-screening clinic in Essex this month believe the tragic death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately could boost the attendance.

Caroline Gard, whose sports-mad son Andy also died from an undiagnosed heart condition, said since the 33-year-old singer’s death clinics run by CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) for teenagers and young adults had been extra busy.

The impact is similar to that created by the death of Essex celebrity Jade Goody which led to a massive increase in the number of women going for cervical cancer screening.

CRY holds regular clinics at Colchester General Hospital and the next one there is Sunday, February 28.

For the “hugely subsidised” cost of £35, people between the ages of 11 and 35 can have an electrocardiogram test which is used to record the electrical activity of the heart.

The aim is to check for one of the hidden conditions which can, if undetected, cause Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) in apparently fit and active young people.

Mrs Gard, CRY’s divisional representative for the East of England, said “Ever since the sudden death of Stephen Gately, screening events across the country have been especially well supported due to increased awareness that this can happen to anyone, and not just those involved in sport.

“We suspect and are hoping that his tragic death might encourage some teenagers and young adults,, who otherwise would not bother to have their heart checked, to come along.

“Statistics show that 1 in 300 individuals have a potentially life-threatening condition and, perhaps even more shocking, 1 in 100 will be found with an important condition, which if left unidentified, could lead to complications in later life.”

“Finding these conditions early, therefore may not only save a life but may also prevent problems for individuals in later life.

CRY believes many young people known to be at a risk such as those with a family history of sudden or showing warning signs are still not being referred for tests, often being dismissed as “too young” or “looking too fit and healthy” to have heart problems

A cardiologist will receive all results on the day of screening and if any follow-up tests are needed they will also be done on the day.

Anyone wanting to attend the clinic was to book an appointment at http.http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/ecg.htm or call 01737 363 222.