Last month 100 students of Halliford School, were screened by the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) thanks to the outstanding fundraising efforts of the family and friends Oliver Griffin, former student of Halliford School who tragically died from a previously undiagnosed heart condition in 2008, aged just 26.

Oliver’s family and friends had been working hard to raise money for the Oliver Griffin Memorial Fund. The money is ring fenced by CRY to provide screenings for cardiac conditions in local young people.

Owen Griffin, Oliver’s father, said: “This particular screening was all down to the efforts of the Daniel Fairfax hair salon, Laleham, who recently raised £4,000 on Oliver’s behalf. We’d love to raise enough to arrange one screening per year – if we can help prevent just one other family losing a much loved young person, that would be a fitting tribute to our son.”

Headmaster, James Davies, said, “We would like to thank the Griffin Family for giving Halliford students this amazing opportunity to be screened. We are immensely grateful for all their efforts and look forward to continuing to support the vital work of the Oliver Griffin Fund to provide further screenings for young people.”

Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young (aged 35 and under) people lose their lives to sudden cardiac death in the UK – a statistic that is believed to be a conservative estimate. A staggering 80% of these apparently healthy young people who die from young sudden cardiac death will have shown no previous sign of heart defects until it is too late – which is why CRY believes screening is so vitally important.

An ECG test is a simple way to identify the vast majority of abnormalities that can cause sudden deaths in young people. The test is quick, non-invasive and, if necessary, a further Echocardiogram can be taken on the same day to provide
further clarity or reassurance.

Chief Executive of Leatherhead-based CRY, Dr. Steven Cox, says: “The death of a young person is heart-breaking and devastating for any family. It is therefore essential that anyone with a potentially fatal heart condition knows about it. Without this knowledge and the appropriate treatment, they could be putting their lives at risk as in 80% of cases there are no signs or symptoms.

Sport itself does not actually cause sudden cardiac death but it can significantly increase a young person’s risk if they have an underlying condition. However, research carried out by CRY has also shown that a large number of these deaths will also occur when a young person is at rest or even sleeping.”

“Although screening will not identify all those at risk, in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, the incidence of young sudden cardiac death has decreased by 90%.”

“CRY now tests around 27,000 young people, aged 14-35, annually. But we still believe screening needs to be extended to all young people”

CRY’s screening programme is overseen by Professor Sanjay Sharma, Professor of Inherited Cardiovascular Disease and Sports Cardiology at St George’s University of London and the Medical Director of the Virgin London Marathon. Professor Sharma makes no charge for supervising the CRY screening programme and due to this support, CRY is able to subsidise the programme significantly- privately, these tests could cost hundreds of pounds.

Dr Cox adds; “I would also like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to everyone involved with the Oliver Griffin Memorial Fund for supporting our screening programme and helping us to make expert cardiac testing more accessible to young people both in [region] and throughout the UK.”