Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Test offer for hidden heart fault

Electrocardiograph (ECG)
The clinic offers patients an electrocardiogram (ECG) test

A clinic is offering tests to pick up undetected heart conditions in young people who appear healthy.

The free screening session is offered by the charity Cardiac Risk in Young People (CRY) to those aged 14 to 35 at the University of Glamorgan.

Every week, around 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart complaints.

Donations to fund the clinic have been made on behalf of three young men who died suddenly from heart failure in the area over the past few years.

Young people who are exercising are more likely to at risk of sudden death if they have an undiagnosed problem which is not being managed.

The session at the clinical suite in the university, in Treforest, south Wales, is offering an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the electrical impulses produced by the heart's rhythm.

If an anomalies are recorded, a further, a more detailed test called an echocardiogram, or ultrasound scan of the heart, is carried out.

Donations were made in memory of three victims
Mark Young, 34, died while playing in a five-a-side football competition (see main story)
Gareth McDonald, 27, was a former student at the university
Christian Thomas, 15, died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition affecting one in 500 people

In May 2007, Mark Young from Cwmbran, south Wales, died suddenly at the age of 34 while playing football in Swansea.

His father Stephen told BBC Wales: "He played football from the age of five. He was a fit and healthy gentleman.

"It just came totally out of the blue. It shocked us, devastated us.

"He was playing for HSBC bank five or six-a-side football. It was part of a tournament and they go on and off for substitutions, and apparently when he came back on he mentioned he wasn't feeling very well.

"He just collapsed and unfortunately he suffered a major tear of the aorta."

On the journey to the hospital, Mr Young believed his son had just been made ill by something that had happened that day and would be all right.

He added: "It wasn't until we got to Swansea we found out that Mark had passed away an hour before."

For Peter Lewis, a senior lecturer in cardiology at the University of Glamorgan, it is a "sad situation" for apparently fit and healthy young people to suddenly die.

"There are lots of sad stories on the CRY website that tell of people who have suffered a sudden death, but there are warning signs in some situations," he said.

"What we'd like to see is patients coming to our clinics is people who suffer maybe when they are exercising some dizziness or chest pains or palpitations.

"They are some of the warning signs, but they are not always there.

"What we're trying to do at CRY is screen as many people as possible to understand how many people may have this condition because right now the 12 deaths a week is more of an estimate than an actual figure."

There are plans to hold another clinic at the same venue in January, and to set up clinics in north and mid Wales.

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SEE ALSO
Sudden Death Syndrome
05 Dec 01 |  Briefing
Heart tests for Scottish athletes
13 Aug 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Sporting 'heart screening' call
03 Jul 08 |  Health
Sudden death runs in the family
28 Sep 03 |  Health

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