Bereaved families from London and the South East have been joined by MPs from all parties to launch a nationwide awareness campaign to highlight shocking new statistics that show the number of young people who lose their lives from the tragic condition sudden cardiac death now stands at 12 every week – a staggering 50% rise on previous estimates.
The new figures released by the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) are based on official statistics [ONS 2006] citing the cause of sudden death among people aged 35 and under – and have been analysed by some of the UK’s leading heart experts, including the charity’s consultant cardiologist, Dr Sanjay Sharma (Kings College Hospital, London).
CRY unveiled the poster-sized version of the new postcard at a moving ceremony outside the House of Commons (College Green) as “Big Ben” chimed noon. The symbolic postcard (which was first launched in 2004 to promote the fact that 8 young deaths were, at the time, estimated every week) features the photos of 12 young people from London and the South East who lost their lives suddenly to previously undetected heart conditions.
12 sudden cardiac deaths a week
The launch of CRY’s new postcard campaign, College Green, Westminster – 14th October 2008
Sudden death syndrome strikes down hundreds of young people – many of whom were involved in sport – at the prime of their lives. Sport does not cause this problem – but it can exacerbate an existing undiagnosed condition and the high risk group is the young.
It is now widely accepted that screening saves lives. CRY is committed to encouraging greater access to its 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 we head towards 2012 – it is time re-launch this powerful campaign 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 ensure we can prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies.”
A major Parliamentary Reception will also take place later this week (Wednesday October 15th) – where a giant ‘white-board’ will be unveiled by Olympian and CRY Patron, James Cracknell* OBE – and will act as a high profile symbol for the charity until 2012. The life sized ‘petition’ has been signed by a number of leading sports personalities, pundits including, Sir Steve Redgrave, Paula Radcliffe, Sir Ian Botham, Tim Henman and Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff.
Alison adds; “Our original postcard campaign was tremendously successful and resulted in hundreds of MPs being targeted with details of our campaigning activity as well as the ‘hard’, shocking facts about sudden cardiac death. In fact, over 100 have since added their support by joining the Cardiac Risk in the Young All Party Parliamentary Group.”
*With CRY Patron David Walliams, James was trained and mentored by Professor Greg Whyte, Director of the CRY Centre for Sports Cardiology based at the Olympic Medical Institute.
This month, hundreds of postcards will also be distributed by CRY supporters to people across the South East urging them to send it back to their local MP. New cards will be launched regularly over the next 2 years, portraying victims from 12 different regions across the UK.