Parent's Plea After Devon Teen Suddenly Dies from Undiagnosed Heart Condition
The mother of a Devon teenager who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition has urged young people to book themselves onto a free heart screening in a bid to avoid similar heartache.
Brenda Luckett's con Martyn, from Hartland in North Devon, was 19 when he passed away from a condition called myocarditis.
Since the tragedy in 2005, Brenda has worked with the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) to organise a series of free heart screenings for people aged between 14 and 35.
The next screenings take place on March 10 and 11 at Pilton Community College in Barnstaple.
Speaking about the day she lost Martyn, Brenda said: “The 11th July, 2005, was the worst day of our lives, your whole world can change in a flick of a switch.
"We had a phone call from a hospital in Swindon, where Martyn had been staying with his sister Charlotte. He had suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of just 19.
"How do you deal with these things? You just have to live with something that has suddenly changed your life.
"We were in contact with CRY who told us about the screenings so we decided to set up a Memorial Fund in Martyn's name, where we raise money to fund the screenings.
"We would like to help as many families as possible, so they don't have maybe one day to go through the heartache we have.”
According to CRY, every week 12 apparently fit and healthy people under the age of 35 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 CRY, Dr Steven Cox, said: “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 added: “I would also like to say an enormous thank you to everyone involved with the Martyn Luckett Memorial Fund for supporting our screening programme and helping us to make expert cardiac testing more accessible to young people both in North Devon and throughout the UK.”
Story Credit: https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/parents-plea-after-devon-teen-1232292