Have you had your heart checked? by Freddie McIntosh, Hampton School

Have you had your heart checked? Sadly, every week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions and 80% of these deaths occur with no prior symptoms. 

Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a non-profit organisation based in Surrey, aims to prevent young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening, research, and supporting affected families. CRY offers free ECG screening to all young people between the ages of 14 and 35, and looks to pick up any cardiac abnormalities and many of the conditions that can cause sudden cardiac death.

Whilst important for every young person, it is particularly important for active, sporty young people to have this test. Although sport has many huge and obvious benefits for the heart and health, such as in terms of cholesterol, blood pressure, and a longer life, it can be the case that if a young person has an unknown heart condition that could cause sudden cardiac death, then sport is three times more likely to kill them.  Professor Sanjay Sharma, Consultant Cardiologist at CRY, explained, “there’s a bit of an irony, sport promotes longevity of life and reduces the risk of death from a cardiac problem but increases the risk of sudden death in an individual who already has a cardiac condition”.  This simple heart test can detect this secret killer.

Unfortunately, without family history or symptoms, this testing is not available with the NHS and so CRY provides a hugely valuable service. The screenings take place all over the country and you just need to sign up for alerts, or keep an eye on the website for when a screening is coming near to you.  New screenings are added all the time – today there have been opportunities to make bookings in Newmarket and Darlington and my brother and I went to our screenings in Wandsworth and in Surrey. Once you are there it is well organised and swift, the ECG takes about 15 minutes and is done by a nurse and then a few minutes later a doctor reads the results and tells you them.  You can find out more at

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