The past 7 days have seen two sudden deaths in the world of elite sport; Belgium footballer Gregory Mertens and Welsh Rugby International, Danny Jones. Both of these tragedies underline the prevalence of young sudden cardiac death and the horrendous impact of such loss among family, friends, team-mates and the wider community.
Trinity PR has worked alongside the pioneering charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) for over 10 years, helping to raise awareness of the conditions that can cause yscd and promoting the work of the charity and its network of supporters.
Dr Steve Cox, Director of Screening and Research at CRY comments: “As a charity, we were all shocked to hear of the sudden deaths of Danny Jones, at just 29 years of age, and Gregory Mertens at 24 – two elite sportsman, seemingly at the peak of fitness and at the prime of their lives. Our thoughts are with both of their friends and family at this horrendous time.
“Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people, (aged 35 and under) die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions – although this is widely believed to be a conservative estimate.
“20 years ago this week (May 1995), CRY was set up to prevent tragedies like this. Whilst, so much has been achieved in this time, there is still an urgent need for more awareness, more investment into research and a greater understanding into the causes of cardiac arrests in young people. Put simply, more needs to be done to prevent young sudden cardiac deaths – 80% of which will occur with no prior symptoms.
“CRY’s pioneering screening programme currently tests 17,000 young people (aged 14-35) every year and is overseen by world leading sports cardiologist, Professor Sanjay Sharma at St George’s University, London. It is part of a wider research programme and a unique, fast-track pathology unit focused on finding the answers to these devastating deaths and preventing future tragedies amongst athletes (both elite and at a grass-roots level) and all young people.
“One in every 300 of the young people that CRY tests will be identified with a potentially life threatening condition. Specialist cardiac screening will identify the majority of – although not all – young people at risk. However, in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, they have reduced the incidence of young sudden cardiac death by 90%.
“This is because sport can significantly increase a person’s risk if they have an underlying condition.”
“Following to tomorrow’s General Election, CRY will be re-focusing on its highly successful All Party Parliamentary Group, urging all MPs (existing and new) to come together to discuss new strategies on preventing young sudden cardiac death. CRY’s newly published manifesto highlights what needs to be done: www.c-r-y.org.uk/manifesto. ”
For more information on CRY’s national screening programme, please visit www.testmyheart.org