Cardiac screening urged to prevent sudden deaths

A group of Cork transition year students are to lobby TDs to have mandatory cardiac screening introduced for all young people playing sport to help reduce cases of sudden adult death syndrome (SADS).

As part of their research into SADS, 32 pupils from Rang Dara class at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill, undertook screening yesterday and will know the results in 10 days’ time.

When told of the project by teacher Alan O’Connor, Laya Healthcare offered to pay €2,500 to cover the cost of sending a Heartaid mobile cardiac screening unit to the school.

Students were told that the Italian government had introduced mandatory screening for all young sports people a number of years ago and, as a result, SADS deaths in the country have fallen by 89%.

“We were looking at healthy lifestyle projects and the students quickly highlighted SADS,” said Mr O’Connor.

“You see a lot about it in the media, especially if some famous people die as a result of it. The students decided they could highlight the problem by having screening and raise awareness of it.”

Ed Donovan, chief executive of Heartaid Ireland, who was on hand to help out with the screening, said that incidents of SADS were higher in Ireland than a lot of other European countries.

“It’s most likely that’s because it’s genetic, but it still requires further research,” said Mr Donovan.

“The information we got from screening the girls will be sent to a consultant cardiologist who will provide a written report which goes back to the person or their guardian within 10 days.

“The Italian model says people should be screened every two years because some heart conditions are developmental over time.”

Heartaid Ireland screened 16,000 people in the last year. At the request of the Gaelic Players’ Association they have also screened all inter-county players, both in Ireland and London.

Mr Donovan also provided an expert presentation to the students about SADS.

“The next part of our project will be to lobby TDs to try and get them to persuade the Government to follow the Italian example and introduce mandatory screening for young sports people,” said Mr O’Connor.


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