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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 06:55 GMT
Mother's call for heart screening
Lisa Browne
Lisa Browne died after her alarm clock went off
A woman from north Wales whose daughter died of a rare heart condition is helping to launch a campaign to raise awareness of sudden cardiac deaths.

Doreen Harley's daughter Lisa Browne died aged 27 in January 1998 after she was startled by her alarm clock.

Members of Mrs Harley's family were later found to have the rare hereditary heart complaint Long QT Syndrome.

Mrs Harley is launching a postcard in north Wales for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (Cry).

The charity's UK-wide campaign aims to reduce sudden death from heart conditions in young people under the age of 35 by raising awareness.

We were told they couldn't find anything wrong and that Lisa should still be alive
Doreen Harley

The postcard shows eight young people in Wales who have died suddenly of a previously undiagnosed heart complaint.

According to the charity, that number of young people die suddenly each week in the UK from heart conditions.

Mrs Harley, of Connah's Quay, Flintshire, said her daughter, a nurse, had no previous history of heart complaints before she died suddenly.

Mrs Harley said: "She was woken by the alarm and put out her arm to switch it off.

"That is how she was found, with her arm resting on the alarm clock.

"At the post mortem examination, we were told they couldn't find anything wrong and that Lisa should still be alive.

"An inquest returned an open verdict and said that the cause of death was unascertainable."
Cry's postcard for its Welsh campaign launch
Cry have launched a postcard for different areas of the UK

Mrs Harley added that the coroner suggested her daughter may have had an electrical rhythm fault with her heart and recommended that the family be screened.

Mrs Harley said: "We were screened at St George's Hospital in London in 1999.

"It was discovered that my husband, Terry, has Long QT Syndrome, which is hereditary.

"My surviving daughter, Rachel, and her children Jack and Adam have also since been screened.

"Both Rachel and Jack have been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, and Adam is still awaiting DNA test results."

Long QT Syndrome centres on the length of time it takes the heart's electrical system to recharge following a heartbeat - known as the QT interval.
Doreen Harley
Doreen Harley wants a UK-wide cardiac screening programme

People who have a long QT interval are vulnerable to a fast, abnormal heart rhythm.

When this occurs, no blood is pumped out from the heart and the brain becomes deprived of blood causing loss of consciousness and sudden death.

Those at risk can be treated either with drugs or with an implantable defibrillator (ICD) which will shock the heart into action during cardiac arrest.

Mrs Harley added that the members of her family with the condition were receiving treatment and said she wants to raise awareness of the cardiac conditions that can cause sudden death.

'Blacked out'

She added: "Rachel had shown some symptoms, so she had an ICD fitted.

"It saved her life when Adam woke up screaming one night.

"She blacked out, but the ICD kicked in brought her back around.

"Until someone has lost a child, they can't understand the heartache it causes a family.

"It is unknown how many young people die of undiagnosed cardiac conditions because many are counted as natural causes, epilepsy or as unascertainable.

"There needs to be a national screening programme."

Mrs Harley launched the postcard campaign in north Wales at Deeside Enterprise Centre on Friday with Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami and local Welsh assembly member Carl Sergeant.

The charity plans to distribute the postcards widely across Wales has asked people to send them to their MP.

Sudden death runs in the family
28 Sep 03 |  Health
Sudden heart death
27 Jun 03 |  Medical notes


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