Gloucestershire Media's Nick Webster discusses the importance of the Stop The Heartbreak campaign.
Famous sporting names have given their backing to get more young hearts screened in the county at a special weekend of events at the University of Gloucestershire next month.
Ty Townsley, 15, of Coney Hill Rugby Club and Dominic Cullen, 24, of Matson RFC both died last year from cardiac related problems. And Longlevens footballer Mark Moore was saved when his heart stopped thanks to paramedics playing on an adjacent pitch in 2012.
Heart conditions can be hard to detect and don’t always present clear symptoms.
A sure fire way to get tested is to have your heart checked out at a weekend of free cardiac screening at the University of Gloucestershire’s Oxstalls Campus on April 8-9.
The university’s Stop the Heartbreak weekend is being staged with support from the Cardiac Risk in the Young charity and The Citizen newspaper.
Fundraising from donations, the sale of wristbands and water bottles is ensuring the £7,000 heart tests remain free of charge.
The will be 200 spaces available for young people aged 14-35 - with bookings being taken now for limited places.
During the two days, there will also be fitness talks from county sportsmen and women, first aid courses and a visit from an Olympic legend.
Five time gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave will be visiting during the weekend to talk about his experiences of heart conditions.
He said: “I am pleased to be a Patron of CRY having had first hand experience of the impact of such a death. Robert Hayley was my best friend and crewmate.
“He was extremely fit and we had just recently as juniors won a senior race together. We had been watching TV. He suddenly stood up and died of what we were told was a cardiac abnormality. He was 17.
“That memory is always with me. Supporting CRY’s work is something I am delighted to be part of.”
Dr Diane Crone, a professor of exercise science at the university, said: “Cardiac conditions in the young can be devastating for those that experience them.
“This two day screening event will help identify young people who have these problems and then give them support to manage them in the future.”
To get involved with raising money please visit: justgiving.com/stoptheheartbreak. Alternatively you can give money to the campaign directly when they hold a bucket collection here at the Abbey Business Stadium before kick off on Saturday.
Dr Joe McAleer, a trainee doctor from Gloucester also diagnosed with a life threatening cardiac condition, said his illness was picked up by chance when he was learning how to take Electrocardiograph (ECG) measurements on fellow students.
Joe, 24, said: “‘I’d always had palpitations but I did not realise that this was not normal. It became apparent that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal, in fact, it was quite dangerous – and that was scary.
“I had a number of investigations, further ECGs and an ultrasound scan of the heart and was treated with a procedure called ‘Catheter ablation’.
“The operation was highly successful in treating the problem, allowing me to return to a full and active life after.
“I enjoy life as much as possible and can now have a life without the worry of heart problem.
“We take for granted those around us, especially the young – we can see their whole future ahead of them and never imagine that it could all just end.
“When sudden death occurs it is cruel, unfair and destroying to the people it effects. There are no heralds before it happens, no warnings, there doesn’t need to be a history of it in the family.
“To have a screening ECG will take five minutes of laying still – it is one of the simplest non-invasive investigations that can be performed. The information garnered from an ECG can lead to definitive treatment that can save lives.
“I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is very likely in the course of your life you will encounter someone who has or will be effected by sudden cardiac death.
“Get checked out, and encourage your friends to do the same. Life is there to be lived – screening like this can ensure everyone has that opportunity.”
If you are aged between 14 and 35 years and would like to be screened at the event please visit: www.c-r-y.org.uk/ecg.htm.