Kentish Express Ashford & District

Risk to young misunderst­ood

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At least 12 apparently fit people aged 35 or below die suddenly every week in the UK, from a previously undiagnose­d heart condition.

Some experts believe the figure could be far higher, as such deaths are often hard to diagnose, and wrongly put down to other causes.

Charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) screens thousands of 14- to 35-yearolds every year in an effort to pick up hidden heart conditions before it is too late.

But since the coronaviru­s pandemic began, it has had to cancel more than 25,000 such appointmen­ts, including more than 600 in Kent.

CRY’s chief executive, Dr Steven Cox (pictured), said: “Worryingly, our waiting list of young people who have registered an interest in screening now stands at over 40,000.

“Every subsequent month that screening events are cancelled or postponed will result in the loss of a further 3,000 appointmen­ts [across the country], and another 10 people being left to live with an undiagnose­d cardiac condition that could cause them to have a cardiac arrest and sudden death.

“We cannot allow these young people to become part of the devastatin­g

‘12-a-week’ statistic.”

Sudden cardiac death in young people is usually caused by heart disease such as cardiomyop­athies – abnormalit­ies of the heart muscle – or congenital heart disease.

But in about one in five sudden cardiac deaths in those aged under 35, no cause can be found, even when the person’s heart is examined after their death by a cardiac pathologis­t.

This is known as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS).

SADS is usually caused by syndromes that bring about arrhythmia – disturbanc­es in the heart’s rhythm – even though the person has no structural heart disease.

Tragically, in some cases there are no warning signs before someone dies of an underlying heart condition, which is why screening is so vitally important.

But there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

These include fainting or seizure during physical activity, and consistent or unusual chest pain.

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