Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) celebrated the launch of its new short film, a powerful piece on their ongoing mission to raise awareness of young sudden cardiac death.
With 12 young people a week dying from cardiac arrest, CRY wants more people to understand how to prevent such tragedies.
Shadow minister for defence, Kevan Jones, founded the APPG following the death of his friend’s son 15 years ago.
Jones commended the work done since the group’s creation, noting the private members bill that succeeded in raising awareness of cardiac risk in parliament ten years ago.
But, the MP warned, “we need to now continue the pressure” and called for an increase in related research, awareness, and screening.
Awareness was of particular importance to the MP, as even in his own constituency there were several cases of mislabelled cause-of-death.
“Young people being diagnosed and saying they have died from drowning, when it’s actually been sudden cardiac arrest,” said the MP.
He blamed this on the common misconception that “young people are not supposed to suffer from cardiac conditions, it’s older people.”
Alarmingly, out of the roughly 600 young heart deaths a year, 80% of these cases are without warning symptoms.
Professor Sanjay Sharma of CRY said that even the UK’s national services framework does not account for this often silent killer.
Despite the framework’s inclusion of a chapter dedicated to inherited cardiac disease in the young, Sharma said, “it only focuses on those with ominous symptoms, such as chest pains, and heart palpitations.”
The professor stressed the need for all 14-16 year olds to be tested, asking, “should we really wait for a death in a family to trigger screening?”
Jones supported the professor’s suggestions with a called for mandatory screening for all sportsmen, and a statutory prevention in schools.
One of CRY’s patrons, the rugby player Lee Mears says his life was saved by preventative screening.
Mears described how as a healthy athlete he had little to be concerned about until a heart screening revealed he was a high risk of cardiac arrest.
“There are people who don’t know they are carrying this thing,” he said.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, parliamentary patron for CRY and a doctor herself, put the need for screening into perspective.
Screenings cost £35, the crossbench peer explained. “For a family, the cost of filling up the car with petrol once, and you’ve screened your children.”
Read more about CRY and its new video campaign