This weekend [Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 October 2018] around 200 local young people will be screened by the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) thanks to a large donation awarded by Councillor Doug Williams (Glyncoch Ward) generated through fundraising during his year as Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Around £14,000 was generously donated to CRY from Cllr Williams – funding these two days at Cardiff Met and leaving additional funds available for further screening in Wales.
For more than two decades, CRY has received huge support in Wales from local families, media and politicians. And, since 2004, CRY has carried out 48 screening sessions across Wales, testing around 4,300 young people for previously undiagnosed heart conditions.
This weekend’s event at Cardiff Met will mark the 49th and 50th days of screening – taking the current total to 4,500.
In 2012, CRY also held a high-profile event at National Assembly in Cardiff, raising huge awareness for the charity and the importance of screening.
Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young (aged 35 and under) people lose their lives to sudden cardiac death in the UK. A staggering 80% of these apparently healthy young people who die from young sudden cardiac death (YSCD) will have shown no previous sign of heart defects until it is too late – which is why CRY believes screening is vitally important. Indeed, the charity now tests around 27,000 young people each year.
Chief Executive of CRY, Dr. Steve Cox, says; “CRY’s latest visit to South Wales not only marks an exciting milestone in terms of the numbers of young people we have screened to date, but it also highlights an important opportunity to establish a more permanent presence in Wales and offering regular screenings for students, young athletes and the wider community.
“Thanks to Councillor William’s generous donation and previous support from The Cardiff Blues, I believe we are in a strong position to establish a Centre for Cardiac Screening in Wales for 2019 and we hope our links with the team at Cardiff Met will help us to realise our vision.
“Our families across Wales have worked incredibly hard to ensure that community screenings are carried out consistently – just recently, we met a young teenager from Tenby who’d had a potentially fatal heart condition picked up at a screening funded by the ‘Dean Mason Memorial Fund’. But, there’s always more that can be done as part of our ongoing mission to prevent young sudden cardiac death. We are also committed to training a future generation of cardiologists with unique expertise in inherited heart conditions from our research centre at St George’s University and encouraging them to share that knowledge at regional centres across the UK.
Dr Cox; “We are very proud of our reputation and achievements in Wales so far and look forward to helping this relationship develop further.”
CRY’s screening programme is overseen by Professor Sanjay Sharma, Professor of Inherited Cardiovascular Disease and Sports Cardiology at St George’s Hospital London and the Medical Director of the Virgin London Marathon. Due to Professor Sharma’s support, CRY is able to provide a hugely subsidised screening programme. Coupled with the enduring fundraising efforts of bereaved families working alongside CRY, anyone aged 14-35 can book a FREE cardiac screening in 3 clicks @ www.testmyheart.org.uk
Dr Mike Stembridge is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology and has been instrumental in bringing the screening to Cardiff Met. He adds; “At Cardiff Met, we’re committed to encouraging the safe participation in sport and physical activity for everyone, ranging from our elite athletes to the local community clubs. We’re excited to be working with CRY to establish a Centre for Cardiac Screening in Wales, with the aim of reducing the frequency of sudden cardiac death in young people.”
Sport does not cause sudden cardiac death, but it can significantly increase a young person’s risk if they have an underlying condition. Although it won’t identify all young people at risk, in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, the incidence of young sudden cardiac death has been reduced by 90%.
Councillor Doug Williams (who was Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor in 2012-13) said: “I had an amazing year as first citizen of our County Borough and was overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people, who helped make our Mayor’s Charity Appeal such a resounding success.
“The Cardiac Risk in the Young charity is a subject close to my heart and I am delighted to see that our donation is being put to such good use. I look forward to going along in person over the weekend to see the screenings taking place.”