Cardiac Risk in the Young

Information on Cardiac Screening

Every week 8 'apparently' fit and healthy young people die in the UK from undiagnosed heart conditions.

CRY provides medical information on the most common causes of unexpected cardiac death in the young (under 35) including:

These conditions include thickening or abnormal structure of the heart muscle and irregularities of the electrical impulses that upset the natural rhythm of the heart.

It is often difficult to consider that someone who is apparently young and fit may be at risk.

Sporty youngsters stress their heart the most. If they have an underlying cardiac abnormality they are more likely to be at risk. Sport itself does not lead to cardiac arrest but it can act as a trigger for a young person to die suddenly by exacerbating an undetected condition.

The majority of young sudden deaths are due to inherited forms of heart muscle disorder and irregular heart beat. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is the most common of these conditions. One in 500 people have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy alone - just one of the cardiac conditions we cover.

In the UK unexplained "sudden death" is frequently recorded as due to natural causes. Experts believe that most of these deaths are due to Sudden Death Syndrome.

Cardiac Screening

We recommend that screening is requested via your GP if there have been any young sudden deaths in the family, or the young person is suffering from symptoms of :

If you are an elite athlete we recommend that you should consider screening. In some countries, e.g. Italy, screening for those participating in sport is mandatory.

Cry will screen any young physically active individual aged between 14 and 35.

There are simple tests that can diagnose most underlying cardiac pathologies. These are:

An Electrocardiagram (ECG) examines the electrical conduction pathways within the heart. Small stickers known as electrodes are placed on the client's chest and are connected to the ECG machine whilst the individual lies still. A printout of the heart's electrical activity is obtained for evaluation by our cardiologist.

An Echocardiagram (ECHO) is an ultrasound test (such as offered to pregnant women) that documents the structure of the heart. From the ultrasound scan, measurements of muscle thickness and chamber diameter are taken.

Both these tests are non-invasive and painless to perform.

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 available evidence from the 25 year Italian experience.

The 12 lead ECG evaluation offers the potential for detecting most potentially leathal cardiovascular conditions.

The cost of a 12 lead ECG is 35

The CRY Screening Service is held at the University of Ulster Clinic situated in the Jordanstown Campus at Block One.

For an appointment at the CRY NI clinic, please contact the CRY Northern Ireland Screening Administrator on 00-353-1737-363222 or e-mail cryni@c-r-y.org.uk

For more information on Cardiac Risk in the Young visit the website at www.c-r-y.org.uk.

Report Filed: 21 March 2007