Young people from the Weald School have been tested for potential heart disorders at a one-off screening day on Tuesday September 15.
A total of 112 pupils were screened at Billingshurst Leisure Centre for heart abnormalities that can cause sudden death in seemingly healthy young people.
A team of staff from the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) were invited to the leisure centre to run the screening event.
As well as nursing staff and physiologists, a senior cardiologist was on site to go through the results of electrocardiogram (ECG) and ultrasound tests with each pupil.
Organiser Sandra Sheehan said: “We wanted to bring a screening day to Billingshurst because at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die from undiagnosed heart disorders every week in the UK.
“Screening using painless ECG and ultrasound procedures is known to be the simplest way to detect these disorders. It would be great if all children were screened as a matter of course as it’s the only way we can prevent these sudden deaths from happening.
“We were very lucky to have a team of such highly-experienced professionals at our event. Many of the staff work at top hospitals and give up their days off to cover screening events like ours.
“The staff at the leisure centre have been fantastic, too, not only agreeing to host the screening day but working really hard to raise the money needed so that parents didn’t have to pay for their children’s appointments.”
CRY is now in its 20th year and is the only charity running a nationwide screening service to young people aged from 14 to 35. The charity is campaigning to get all young people screened, especially those participating in sport. Although sport doesn’t cause cardiac arrest it can trigger a sudden death by aggravating an abnormality. As a result some countries test all their young people.
The European Society of Cardiology recommends heart screening for any young person taking part in competitive sport, but although some professional sports bodies and private schools have introduced screening there is no national policy.
Weald headteacher Peter Woodman said the school was very much behind the screening idea.
He added: “We are keen for students to be proactive with their health care and this opportunity with Cardiac Risk in the Young gave us the ideal opportunity to support them in this.”
As the event was oversubscribed it is hoped that further screenings will be held in future so that more young people can be tested.
Leisure centre manager Dale Whitford said: “We have been really pleased to host the heart checks carried out by CRY here at Billingshurst Leisure Centre.
“We hope that these checks have helped make a difference to the young people who have attended an appointment today.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has helped us to raise the money needed to bring the event to Billinghurst, including Billingshurst Lions and Sussex County Cricket Club, who provided tickets to raffle.
“Let’s hope it is the first of many screenings we hold here so that we keep our young people safe.”
Report contributed by Sandra Walsh. Picture of cardiac scientist Peter Lewis scannng for heart problems by Steve Robards SR1521979.