Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young aged 35 and under die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions.

Papadakis, M., Sharma, S., Cox, S., Sheppard, M.N., Panoulas, V.F. and Behr, E.R.
“The magnitude of sudden cardiac death in the young: a death certificate-based review in England and Wales.”
Europace 2009 Vol.11, No.10, p1353-1358  [Abstract]

A national programme for systematic pre-participation screening of all young competitive athletes has been in place in Italy since 1971. Research confirms that ECG testing is the most cost effective way to test for cardiac abnormalities.  A competitive athlete was defined as a participant in an organised sports programme requiring regular training and competition – thus school children would be included in the programme.

Domenico Corrado, M.D., Cristina Basso, M.D., Maurizio Schiavon, M.D., and Gaetano Thiene, M.D.

“Screening for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Young Athletes”
N Engl J Med 1998; 339:364-369 August 6, 1998 [Full Text]  .

One in every 300 of the young people that CRY tests will be identified with a potentially life threatening condition.

Wilson, M.G., Basavarajaiah, S., Whyte, G.P., Cox, S., Loosemore, M. and Sharma, S.
“Efficacy of personal symptom and family history questionnaires when screening for inherited cardiac pathologies: the role of electrocardiography.”
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2008 Vol.42, No.3, p207-211  [Abstract]

Although screening will not identify all young people at risk, 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%.

Corrado, D., Basso, C., Pavei, A., Michieli, P., Schiavon, M. and Thiene, G.

“Trends in Sudden Cardiovascular Death in Young Competitive Athletes after Implementation of a Preparticipation Screening Program.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association 2006 Vol.296, No.13, p1593-1601  [Full Text]

Pre-participation cardiovascular evaluation of young competitive athletes by 12-lead ECG (in addition to history and physical examination) is warranted on the basis of the available evidence, coming from the 25-year Italian experience, that athletes affected by HCM are successfully identified and athletic field deaths reduced

ESC  Concensus statement –
European Heart Journal (2005) 26, 516–524 – Corrado et al [Full Text]

The risk of SCD in young athletes is increased 2.8-fold compared with non-athletes of similar age

Corrado D, Basso C, Rizzoli G, Schiavon M, Thiene G.
Does sport activity enhance the risk of sudden death in adolescents and young adults?
J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 42, 1959–1963 (2003). [Full Text]