Families from Birmingham and across the Midlands joined together at a poignant event on Friday 13th March, as they helped to launch a major regional campaign to highlight shocking new statistics that show the number of young people who lose their lives to the tragic condition sudden cardiac death now stands at 12 every week – a staggering 50% rise on previous estimates.
The new figures are based on official statistics [ONS 2006] citing the cause of sudden death among people aged 35 and under.
A poster-sized version of an emotive new postcard – featuring the photos of 12 young people from the Midlands region who lost their lives suddenly to previously undetected heart conditions – was unveiled at the ceremony at Eastwood Hall in Nottingham.
The symbolic campaign (which first started in 2004 to promote the fact that 8 young deaths were, at the time, estimated every week), was recently re-launched at a national event at Westminster, supported by the charity’s latest patron, James Cracknell OBE.
In addition, the results of a new survey, commissioned by CRY, showed people living in the Midlands are the least likely to be aware that a simple test known as an ECG can detect potentially fatal heart conditions in young people. Only 58% (compared to 71% in Scotland) knew about the availability of this type of screening.
The families of the 12 young people who appear on the postcard, were all in attendance at the event – along with local MPs – paying tribute to the children and partners who all lost their lives so suddenly and tragically.
It is now widely accepted that screening saves lives. CRY is committed to encouraging greater access to cardiac testing for all groups and individuals (but especially those involved in sport at ‘grass-roots level) to detect conditions that might otherwise go undiagnosed.
Chief Executive and Founder of the charity, Alison Cox MBE, says; “We feel – as the recorded incidence of sudden cardiac death rises – it is time re-launch this powerful campaign in the Midlands to help emphasise the importance of screening and the fact that so many of these tragic cases affecting fit and healthy young people could have been prevented.”
These 12 faces are just a “snap-shot” of the problem and we need to keep up the pressure and engage support from as many MPs as possible to make sure we can prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies.”
This month, hundreds of postcards will be distributed by CRY families and supporters to people across the Midlands urging them to send it back to their local MP. It is hoped the influx of postcards will encourage MPs to add their support to the campaign and join the Cardiac Risk in the Young All Party Parliamentary Group.
Alison adds; “We already have strong support from MPs in the Midlands region – many of whom have been deeply moved by a death of a young person in their constituency and have pledged to support us in our ongoing work and awareness raising activity.”
“We’re therefore confident that this latest campaign will help us to target those MPs who are not yet aware of our commitment to preventing further needless deaths across their region as well as spreading our important educational messages to parents and young people living in the Midlands.”
New cards will be launched regularly over the next 18 months, portraying victims from 12 different regions across the UK.