Professor Sanjay Sharma – How CRY’s research has changed the way we screen young people for cardiac conditions

On May 11 we hosted the first CRY Family Research Day, giving some of our supporters a chance to learn more about the massive impact of our research. 

There was no one better to discuss how CRY’s research has transformed the way we screen young people than CRY Consultant Cardiologist Professor Sanjay Sharma. CRY began by facing opposition to the pursuit of cardiac screening across the UK. Professor Sharma listed some of the concerns and opinions others had, questioning the use for screening due to the supposed low incidence of sudden cardiac death, a high number of false positives, whether we have the necessary specialists, and the cost.

“This was never going to take off if it wasn’t for someone with the energy that Alison [Cox, CRY Founder],” Professor Sharma said. He also credited the vital work of CRY’s Research Fellows. “We had a battery of Research Fellows that have been through us, and all of these people [referring to seven Fellows shown in his presentation] are now consultants… and all contributed so much to the way that we interpret a young person’s ECG.

“Probably one of the proudest things that’s ever happened to me was that this 10 to 12 years of intensive research funded by all of [CRY’s supporters] culminated, for the first time in the history of sports cardiology, in something called the International Recommendations… i.e., if you used these criteria [to interpret ECG results] anywhere in the world, you were doing a good job.”

CRY research has also reduced false positive rates from 22% to just 3% in the white population. “So, [when] your family or your children have an ECG screening done by CRY, there’s only a 3% chance that we may say we need to do more tests,” Professor Sharma added. “And there’s a 1 in 300 chance that we’ll say to you there’s something wrong with your kid, and we can actually do something about it and prevent a sudden death in most people.”

Professor Sharma finished the event’s research presentations with a thank you to supporters, who truly make our research possible with their tireless fundraising efforts.

“I’d like to thank you all for raising so much money to support a charity whose mission it is to reduce young sudden cardiac death,” Professor Sharma said. “Your money has gone a long way into improving the way that we diagnose people, improving what we know about causes of sudden death, improving methods of risk stratification – i.e. when someone is diagnosed, how do you predict someone is going to die or not.

“Clearly there’s a long way to go. We want to minimize the risk of sudden death and there’s a lot to learn, and I hope for your continued support.”