MP pledges support to national strategy on young sudden cardiac deaths

Western Isles MSP Angus MacNeil at the annual CRY Parliamentary Reception at Westminister.
Western Isles MSP Angus MacNeil at the annual CRY Parliamentary Reception at Westminister.

The leading heart charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) is urging all MPs to make a pledge to support a National Strategy for the Prevention of Young Sudden Cardiac Death (YSCD) to help save young lives.

At a packed parliamentary reception Angus MacNeil MP met bereaved families, researchers, charity Patrons and fellow MPs from all parties as he signed up to the campaign to put screening in the spotlight: #MPsupport4CRY.

CRY experts told guests that the first stage of a national strategy should be to correctly acknowledge the incidence of these tragic deaths.

There is clear published evidence that government advisors are significantly under-reporting the number of young sudden cardiac deaths (age 35 and under).

This has lead to the National Screening Committee advising the Government the risk of young sudden cardiac death is “tiny” and that “the overwhelming majority of heart attacks happen in elderly people.”

Mr MacNeil said: “I am pledging to support a National Strategy for the Prevention of Young Sudden Cardiac Death to help save the lives of the 12 apparently fit and healthy young people who die every week in the UK of undiagnosed cardiac conditions.”

CRY has a strong presence in Scotland due the number of local families who have been tragically affected by young sudden cardiac death.

Mr MacNeil was first made aware of CRY following the sudden death of young local man, Andrew Macleod in 2011. He was aged just 21.

Andrew’s parents, Murdo and Dolina have become active campaigners and fundraisers for CRY, bringing its expert screening team to Stornoway on several occasions.

Overall, 2,236 young people have been screened across Scotland in the past five years, with around one thousand of those taking place during 2016. And, 654 young people have been tested in Stornoway / Isle of Lewis.

Dr Steven Cox, CEO of CRY says: “Twelve young people dying every week is not a “tiny” issue. This is one of the most common causes of death in young people.

“Also, it is completely wrong and unacceptable to compare cardiac arrests in seemingly fit and healthy young people to heart attacks in the elderly.

“The number of deaths reported to the government appears to be less than one tenth of the true number of young sudden cardiac deaths.

“This is partly because of the way these deaths are reported. Cardiac arrests are electrical problems, so when a person dies the electricity disappears so there is no evidence of the problem that has caused the death.”

In 80% of cases of young sudden cardiac death, there will have been no signs or symptoms, which is why CRY believes proactive screening is so vitally important

Dr Cox, adds: “In simple terms, current UK policies are contradictory, with recognised guidelines based on inconsistent assessments of the incidence, methods of diagnosis and management of cardiac conditions in young people.

“We are extremely grateful to Angus MacNeil for attending our event during CRY Awareness Week and we hope he will continue following our campaign with interest and active engagement.”

Full details of the pledge to support a National Strategy for the Prevention of Young Sudden Cardiac Death to help save young lives can be found: here