Still time to sign up for heart check

The year's first screening of young people from Essex for heart conditions similar to the one which led to the tragic sudden death of footballer Phil O'Donnell will begin next month.

The event has been organised by the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young's (CRY) East of England representative Caroline Gard who lives in Frinton and lost her teenage son to an undiagnosed heart condition.

It has proved so popular that people are coming from as far away as the West Country and the Midlands to be checked for a number of conditions by undergoing an electrocardiogram (ECG) test.

However, some places are still available for the February 2 screening at Colchester General Hospital and CRY is appealing to anyone aged between 14 to 35 to get in touch.

Mrs Gard said: "The sudden death of Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell at the end of last year really brought home the devastation that such a death of one so young and seemingly fit has on family, friends and community. Sadly, what people may not realise is that this truly is not a one-off. We know that at least eight deaths such as this happen every week in this country and yet so few people are even aware that they can occur.

"It works out at more than 400 deaths of young people every year, many of which could be prevented by having the appropriate test to discover one of the conditions which can cause this.

"the clinic at Colchester General Hospital is just such an opportunity and already we have people booked in from as far away as the West country and West Midlands.

"However, we still have some places available for February 2 and we hope that people will see this as a worthwhile opportunity to get checked." The clinics have been held since 2004 and aim to identify any hidden conditions which can lead to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in apparently fit and healthy young people.

For the subsidised cost of £35, each teenager or young adult would have an electrocardiogram (ECG), which takes only 10 minutes and is totally pain-free.

CRY is campaigning nationally for all children at the age of 14 to have an ECG test. It claims that many young people at risk such as those with a family history of sudden death or showing warning signs were still not being referred for test, often being dismissed as too young to have heart problems.

Anyone wishing to know more about the February 2 clinic at Colchester General Hospital or to book an appointment should visit the CRY website and click on screening or telephone 01737 363 222.