A free screening session to check young people for undiagnosed heart conditions which can prove fatal is to be held in Billingshurst.
Around 100 students aged 14 and over from The Weald School in Billingshurst will take the screening test at the event on September 15.
A team from the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) will visit the leisure centre on September 15 to test around 100 Weald students using an electrocardiogram (ECG) to record electrical activity in the heart.
A further ultrasound test, known as an echocardiogram, may also be carried out and a cardiologist will be on hand to review the test results.
It is believed that 12 young people die every week in the UK from undiagnosed heart conditions.
Often seemingly fit and healthy young people collapse and die without warning while taking part in a sporting activity.
In some countries, such as Italy, children are not allowed to take part in sports unless they have undergone heart screening and as a result the incidence of sudden cardiac death has reduced by 90 percent.
Although sport does not actually cause sudden cardiac death, it can significantly increase a young person’s risk if they have an underlying condition.
The European Society of Cardiology recommends heart screening for any young person taking part in competitive sport, but although some professional sports bodies in the UK have introduced screening there is no such scheme for the general population.
The charity CRY is no in its 18th year of providing testing and screens nearly 16,000 young people in the UK each year.
Private screenings costs hundreds of pounds but organisers of the Billingshurst event are busy raising money so that the school children do not have to pay for their screening appointments.
Billingshurst Leisure Centre has agreed to host the event and is in the process of seeking funding. Contributors include Billingshurst Lions and Sussex Cricket Club, which has donated match tickets which are being raffled off.
Leisure centre manager Dale Whitford said: “We are keen to get involved with and host this intiative as we feel it is important to help more people in this important age group have access to heart checks that could potentially save a life.”
The Billingshurst screening is the first of its kind in the area but it is hoped that, if successful, further screening events will be held to enable more young people to be tested.
Staff at Billingshurst Leisure Centre are pictured above at the Billingshurst Show raising money for the cardiac screening.
Report and picture contributed by Sandra Walsh.