12 young people die a week. Not enough says Committee.
The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) put out an announcement yesterday. They announced that we do not need to screen young people for risk of sudden cardiac death. That in their eyes, that the issue is not big enough.
Never mind that at any moment, they might just have a cardiac arrest (which I now know differs from a heart attack) and die. They are otherwise fit and healthy. At the time of their death, they may even be actually playing sport. Twelve a week. And that’s only a base number. There is a possibility it could be more. Many more.
Now if it started being reported in the news that in the UK, twelve young people were being shot , there would be public outcry. Imagine if 624 young people died in an aeroplane crash, every single year. There would be public outrage. Why do innocent people have to lose their lives and in turn their families be ripped apart by grief. Every single one of those people are someone’s son or daughter, a brother, a sister, a best friend even. Yet here we are, travelling through life, ignoring the statistics staring us in the face.
In response to the NSC announcement, a charity called ‘Cardiac Risk in the Young’ have put out a counter statement. In which they describe how disappointed they are by the NSC and it’s findings.
Dr Steve Cox, Director of Screening and Research at Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) – a stakeholder in the long-awaited Government review on population cardiac screening – says:
“We are extremely disappointed to hear this announcement recommending against a UK-wide cardiac testing programme for the prevention of sudden cardiac death in young people. The National Screening Committee has let us down, it has let down thousands of bereaved families and above all it has let down our young people and our future generations – including many aspiring young athletes and sports stars.
“Every week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (aged 35 and under) die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. However, this is widely believed by experts in the UK and internationally to be a conservative estimate. For over 20 years, CRY has been calling for policy makers to stop pushing this issue ‘under the carpet’.
And that’s exactly what the NSC want to do. They want to just brush these people and their families ‘under the carpet’. To them, it’s just wants to think of these deaths as a small number. Of no relevance to them and they are certainly not thinking about the families of those who die.
Thankfully, through hardworking fundraisers, CRY runs an amazing screening programme which tests 17000 young people for the signs, every year. It’s not enough though is it? We need to wake up to their findings. The facts say it all. In Italy, where screening is mandatory, there has been a reduction of 89% in young sudden cardiac death.
Of course, I am not stupid enough to realise that we have a cash strapped NHS. That if we found a problem in someone’s heart, it would take a lifetime of treatment and that is costly. But are we really saying that we are so cold hearted in humanity, that we are OK with letting people who have their whole lives ahead of them, die suddenly? The majority of whom have taken steps to improve their fitness and life spans by doing exercise? Instead of people smoke (I include myself in this) and eat junk and expect to be treated for free by the NHS? I would decline any treatment for myself if it meant just one person could be treated for a heart condition found after screening. I really would.
I speak from experience. When you’ve watched your best friend, who for some miraculous reason, had a cardiac arrest and hung on after hours of CPR and whose heart did begin to heal itself. Yet the damage to his brain was done and a medical decision was made to turn off his machines that were helping to keep him alive.
If CRY had been listened to 20 years ago, my friend might just be here now. If this government don’t listen to them now, you might lose your best friend too. And let me tell you, it’s horrendous and heart breaking. Just ask any of the families of those who die this week.
Finally, I’m not just harping on and doing nothing. I am actually running the Run To The Beat 10K in September for CRY and would really appreciate sponsorship. I know 10k isn’t a marathon but as I came nearly last in a race of this distance, last month, it’s going to mean some hard work this time. With little over a month to go.
Should you wish to sponsor me, you can do so here http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/JayneMortimer
The NSC announcement can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/screening-for-risk-of-sudden-cardiac-death-not-recommended
CRY’s response is here http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/national-screening-committee/