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Heart database to help save lives

Heart database to help save lives
8:41am Saturday 8th November 2008

By Barry Nelson

A NORTH-EAST family who lost two children to a rare form of sudden heart failure have welcomed an initiative designed to save lives.

A new sudden cardiac death database is being funded by the Department of Health as part of a drive to try to reduce the death toll of a syndrome which claims the lives of 12 under-35s every week.

Kath Conroy, grandmother of Anne-Marie and Daniel Readshaw, from Ferryhill, County Durham, two 13-year-olds who died within two years of each other, said: "I am absolutely in favour of this. This is very good news.”

Last night, Mrs Conroy revealed that her family recently suffered a third tragic loss from sudden cardiac death.

On September 26, her daughter-inlaw, Katharine Conroy, was found dead at her home in Devon. Initial tests were unable to determine the cause of death, but after an investigation by the country’s leading expert in sudden cardiac death, it was found that Mrs Conroy, the mother of three young girls, had died from a rare, undetected heart defect. "We can’t believe it has happened again. It just shows how much this database is needed,” the grieving woman’s mother-in-law said.

Designed by pathologists and heart specialists, the database is intended to help experts understand the causes of inheritable conditions that can cause sudden cardiac death. It is hoped that this will help doctors to identify people at risk and help them get access to the services they need.

The setting up of such a database was strongly welcomed by Stockton MP Dari Taylor, who has campaigned for years in support of the charity Cry, Cardiac Risk in the Young. "I am very pleased. This is a big step forward. We need a better understanding of sudden cardiac death so we can come up with more effective screening and treatment to prevent these deaths,” she said.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who has also been active in the campaign, said: "This is excellent news. One of the key things is to build up the body of research and evidence around sudden cardiac death syndrome.”

Alison Cox, chief executive of Cry, said: "Every person has the right to know why their child has died. This database will not only help to understand the true incidence of these deaths, but in the future will help families to at least know the name of the condition that caused these young sudden deaths.

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