UK & World News

  • 23 March 2014, 11:28

Heart Defects In Young 'Higher Than Thought'

Undiagnosed heart defects may be killing many more teenagers and young adults than previously thought.

The most recent estimate claims Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) is responsible for the deaths of 12 people aged 14-35 in the UK every year. 

But a leading cardiologist has told Sky News he believes the true figure is significantly higher. 

Professor Sanjay Sharma said: "If we look at it more deeply and we analyse autopsy data in more detail we will find that the number probably creeps up to around 16-18 deaths per week in the UK."

Newly married Claire Reed was 22 when she died at a friend's hen party. 

Her husband Andy described her as "fit and healthy" and someone who "loved life".

Recalling how they had spent the morning together before she set off for a weekend away, he said: "There was nothing wrong with her on that day. She was completely normal."

"When someone tells you that you've just been texting your wife a few hours before - and then the doctor tells you she's died - your mind cannot comprehend it. It doesn't make any sense."

Claire's family is now campaigning for a nationwide screening programme for teenagers and young adults so heart problems can be diagnosed even if there are no symptoms.

The UK National Screening Committee is currently looking at whether to introduce a programme. 

The former Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba is also calling for defibrillators to be installed in public places, including pubs and train stations. 

He was forced to quit the game after suffering a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match in 2012. 

The footballer's heart stopped for more than an hour and a defibrillator was used to give him electric shocks while he was unconscious on the pitch.

He told Sky News: "I'm just very grateful that I've been given a second chance to live life again and spend time with my wife and kids."