Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 16:38 UK

Teenagers offered heart screening

Heart attack
The first unit dedicated to sudden cardiac death has opened in London

A charity is offering 14-year-olds in London and the South East free heart screening in a bid to cut sudden deaths from undetected cardiac problems.

Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) said 12 apparently fit under 35s die every week from undiagnosed heart conditions.

The screening initiative will help to lay the foundations for a national programme in the future.

The focus on 14-year-olds is because post puberty is the earliest age that proactive screening is viable.

The launch of CRY's programme coincides with the announcement of what is thought to be the world's first specialist centre dedicated to sudden cardiac death, which will be based at St George's Healthcare NHS Trust in south-west London.

Huge milestone

Dr Steve Cox, director of screening at CRY, said: "We are currently screening thousands of young people every year aged between 14 and 35. However, this is just the start.

"We need to know more about what a national screening programme will look like, when it is best to introduce screening and how to make this process as easy as possible for every young person who wants to be tested."

The programme has been made possible because of a charitable grant from interdealer broker ICAP.

Alison Cox, chief executive and founder of CRY, said: "This ICAP funding is a huge milestone for CRY and takes us another step closer to realising our dream of being able to offer heart testing to all young people in the UK.

"I launched CRY 14 years ago in 1995 - and it therefore feels right to be offering young people turning 14 the opportunity to be screened by some of the world's leading experts and to hopefully to be able to reassure them that they are in good health."

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