Here are 9 things you can learn about Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS):
1. A SADS fact of life
Heard about young people dropping dead with a heart problem? About 12 people aged up to 35 years old do every week in the UK.
2. SADS stands for ‘Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome’.
Arrhythmic means an abnormal heart rhythm. This is the “electrics” which keep the heart beating regularly. So nothing to do with the arteries (old age, smoking, high blood pressure) but something you’re born with, if you’re unlucky.
3. SADS is more common in footballers, other professional sports players, very sporty people, and the armed forces.
Why? Because the arrhythmia is more likely on or soon after severe exercise. This doesn’t mean sport is bad for you! Only if you have one of these conditions which can cause SADS. Some of these can even kill you in your sleep.
4. “I’m young and healthy so I can’t have a heart problem”.
Unfortunately no – the causes of SADS are genetic, in other words they run in families, so when doctors delve into it in detail, there may have been unexplained deaths in relatives under the age of 35 – including things like drowning.
5. “I'd know if I had it”.
Actually no – in many cases death (from a cardiac arrest) happens only seconds after the warning. In luckier people who don’t have a cardiac arrest, there may be warning signs such as fainting for no reason, fainting during exercise, palpitations (feeling your heart is thudding fast when you’re doing nothing strenuous), or getting chest pain or overly breathless on exercise.
6. SADS is preventable if doctors pick it up from the warning signs.
Very simple tests (like an ECG) can prove it, and death can be prevented with medical advice, sometimes medication, and sometimes a small operation to put in an internal defibrillator. So if you’re worried about yourself, a friend or someone in your family, it’s worth a visit to the doctor’s to discuss it.
7. “If someone drops dead it’s too late”. No! no! no! no! – NOT TRUE!!!
If the people nearby start CPR and a device called a defibrillator is applied to the chest within 8 minutes, survival rates are very high. This means that everyone should learn how to do CPR. Just look on the Internet for “staying alive CPR” and you can learn CPR in 30 seconds from YouTube or the British Heart Foundation. It’s really that easy.
8. Public awareness and education in CPR and defibrillators makes a big difference.
In places like Norway, Holland and parts of the United States they improved survival rates from 10% to over 80% from teaching CPR in schools and putting defibrillators (AEDs) in public places like train stations, sports stadiums, schools, village centres (e.g phone boxes).
9. YOU can make a difference!
To learn more visit – facebook.com/JHMTorguk and Twitter @JHMTorguk to fight against young people dying from unsuspected heart conditions and improve survival rates through teaching CPR and what AEDs are for. The Joe Humphries Memorial trust is a Leicestershire charity set up following the death of Joe Humphries (aged 14) who was fit and healthy but collapsed and died while out jogging in Rothley, Leicestershire in October 2012. There’s lots you can learn and lots you can do! Help JHMT fight for life!
how to get help
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