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Sudden Adult Death Syndrome With Cardiologist Dr Joe Galvin

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Sudden Adult Death Syndrome is a sudden cardiac death of an apparently fit and healthy young person. Although accurate statistics are not available in Ireland experts estimate that at least one young Irish person under the age of 35 dies suddenly each week from cardiac diseases such as Cardiomyopathy or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). Most victims of SADS are active youngsters who report no symptoms before their fatal collapse.

The Mater Heart Week 2009 is taking place from 7th-14th February

Sudden Adult Death Syndrome is a sudden cardiac death of an apparently fit and healthy young person. Although accurate statistics are not available in Ireland experts estimate that at least one young Irish person under the age of 35 dies suddenly each week from cardiac diseases such as Cardiomyopathy or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). Most victims of SADS are active youngsters who report no symptoms before their fatal collapse.

Sudden Adult Death Syndrome as the title implies, culminates in a person dying very suddenly and unexpectedly. Sudden death in the family is particularly traumatic for the relatives and friends of the victim as this type of death can occur in an apparently fit and healthy young person who has shown absolutely no sign of illness. In some sudden arrhythmia deaths there are no signs at all on autopsy testing, this is due to faults within the electrical activity of the heart, which cannot be detected after death.
Dr Joe Galvin:

What exactly is SADS?
Sudden Adult Death Syndrome is a sudden cardiac death of an apparently fit and healthy young person.
Do we have any statistics for Ireland?
One Irish person under 35 dies suddenly each week from an undiagnosed heart condition such as SADS or Cardiomyopathy. In 2005 69 post-mortems confirmed sudden cardiac death in young people under 35.

Who is most at risk?
First degree family members who have lost a loved one to SADS.
Are there any warning signs?
Often not. Fainting spells can be a sign but are usually benign.

What can we do to prevent this?
1) Reduce Cardiac Arrest response time by providing more AED's (Defibs) - this has proven to be successful at the Mater
2) Screen family members of victims.

Is there any lifestyle advice for people who suffer with this?
If you have a sudden cardiac death under 40years in your family get GP to refer you to Family Heart Screening Clinic at the Mater.

The Family Heart screening clinic in the Mater:
Since opening in 2007 The Family Heart Screening Clinic continues to be a vital and essential service for families who have lost a loved one. Research and development has been invested into SADS, or for those living with a hereditary cardiac condition such as cardiomyopathy. As a result the Cardiologists have been able to expand the number of clinics they are delivering as well as increase the range of tests that are being carried out therefore offering an even more thorough screening process. In addition, these changes have also dramatically increased the number of families they are able to screen while reducing the waiting time considerably.

Cardiologists from The Mater Hospital led by Dr Joe Galvin and Dr Ronan Margey have been carrying out research looking at the outcome of Cardiac Arrest in the Mater catchment area - population 180,000. As research showed most arrests occurred in the home the following measures were put in place to improve awareness and to save lives. Along with changes introduced by the Dublin Fire Brigade Ambulance Service, a number of Mater hospital led initiatives have been implemented such as:

. Improved pre-hospital care
. Improved access to Defibrillation
. Improved hospital care with the provision of Irelands only 24 hour Cath Lab at the Mater Hospital.

These steps led to a dramatic improvement in survival from Cardiac Arrests, with survival to discharge from VF (whereby you need a defibrillator to shock your heart back in to rhythm) increasing from 8% in 2004 to 40% in 2008. These survival results are on par with the best survival rates in the United States.

For more please contact The Mater Foundation on 01 830 3482 or text HEART to 51444.

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