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Healthy Heart

On a gloriously sunny Sunday morning, Kelly Stant and I had our hearts tested through CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), which is a small national charity set up to support the screening/testing programme, supporting families who have been affected by cardiac defects and undertaking a programme of research throughout the UK.

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Memory of Matthew

The ‘CRY for Matthew’ fundraising appeal has been set up because currently in the UK over 12 young people a week die from undiagnosed heart defects, and in 2012, Matthew Dewhirst became one of those statistics. The ‘CRY for Matthew’ charity is funded purely by sponsorship and donations in memory of Matthew.

The free heart screening is available for people aged 14 – 35; it is a great opportunity to be screened for heart defects and to be reassured about your health, with advice for the future (if appropriate). If the test results show abnormalities from the ECG, the Cardiologist will then write to your GP for them to discuss further, and refer you onto the appropriate Consultant to ensure a correct treatment plan can be implemented. The aim of the screening is for abnormalities to be detected early so that something can be done.

200 people over the weekend

It was great to see so many people attending Oswestry School where the screenings were taking place - from teenagers to adults, pregnant women, sportsmen... and the school’s Headmaster’s dog made quite a few appearances too, and was enjoying the fuss he was being given by all the guests on his turf! I’m sure if his heart was tested it would have been off the charts with all the excitement he was showing.

I believe the team were aiming to screen just under 200 people over the weekend and that was just within the two screening days held at Oswestry School. I was however disappointed to overhear one of the volunteers saying that 37 people had been no shows (and there was four hours still to go of the day). It was a fabulous day so I imagine a lot of people decided it wasn’t important enough and perhaps went off for the day to enjoy the good weather. It is such a shame however that people do not think their health is important. Other people who couldn’t necessarily have booked a slot originally could have made use of the wasted appointments and been tested.

Painless and non-invasive

The testing took place by way of an Electrocardiogram (ECG), which looks at the electrical conduction pathways around the heart. Small stickers known as electrodes are placed on the client’s chest and the wires connect to an ECG machine whilst you lie still. A printout of the heart’s electrical activity is obtained for evaluation by the Cardiologist. This test is painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes to perform. From the information provided on screen, measurements are taken which give a guide to muscle thickness and size of the chambers of the heart.

Better safe than sorry and all was normal

The thought had never entered my mind before about having a heart condition but I jumped at the chance to have my heart tested – it is better to be safe than sorry. I sat on the bed and had the little electrodes placed all over me. I don’t think I was on the bed for more than a minute and I was told it was complete. I didn’t even realise they had taken the readings!

I was then waiting nervously in the common room for the Cardiologist to call me in. She reviewed the ECG trace and told me all was normal, which was a great relief.

The specialist screening that is offered has a cost of £35 - £50 per person (this is funded by CRY), but this is a fraction of the true cost of the service and CRY’s statistics confirm, that by offering this screening, it reduces the risks of Young Sudden Cardiac Death by 90%. To have an ECG done privately would cost hundreds of pounds, so to have the opportunity of a free heart test to check for any heart conditions was a real privilege.

I offered my donation and thanked the team for their assistance. They were all volunteers that had given up their weekend to help so many people. One of the nurses informed me she had a three hour drive home at the end of the day, and then she was off to another location in South Wales the following day to start the screening process again. CRY has a great team supporting them. The work they do is incredible.

If you are aged between 14 - 35 or have relatives who fit in this age bracket, head to www.testmyheart.org to see where the next screening is taking place and how to book an appointment.

For more information about CRY or if you would like to make a donation, please visit http://cry-for-matthew.org.uk/ or http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/cardiac-screening/

We only have one heart. Look after it and it will look after you.

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