Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Every year we hear numerous tragic stories of local, young, fit and healthy people, often involved in sports, dying because of sudden cardiac death. It is one of the most common causes of death in young people. Every single week 12 young people, (aged 35 and under) die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. The thing is, so many of these deaths are preventable and we, Heartbeat and Aviva, can potentially do something to identify those at risk and in doing so reduce the number of sudden cardiac deaths in our own local community and area.
Heartbeat is a local heart charity based in Preston providing a range of prevention and rehabilitation services to people who are recovering from heart illness and those who are at high risk of developing it. On a weekly basis Heartbeat currently support nearly 700 people with cardiac rehabilitation which aims to improve their health and ultimately reduce their risk of future cardiac illness.
Heartbeat would like to fund a project that has the potential to deliver positive change to young people by offering a screening programme that could diagnose most cardiac abnormalities and in doing so help to prevent young sudden cardiac deaths. Presently 80% of young people who suffer sudden cardiac death have no signs or symptoms and the only way to detect a potentially serious abnormality is through cardiac screening. There is not a locally based charity that currently offers an on-going service of this kind and the small amount of testing that is delivered by a national charity is always in high demand and over-subscribed. Heartbeat would look to offer a local solution.
Heartbeat’s plan is to offer ECG (electrocardiograph) screening to assess the risk for sudden cardiac death and in doing so prevent it. We have the opportunity to work with the Lancashire Sunday Football League which has teams of amateur football players (more than 2,500 players) throughout the area aged between 15 and 35. Sudden cardiac death in young athletes is the leading cause of medical death in this group of people. Recent high profile cases have increased awareness and fear, however screening for this in the amateur athlete is difficult to access. With funding we would hope to be able to open this up and reach more young people involved in other activities and sports clubs in the vicinity.
Heartbeat’s plan is to offer ECG screening in this group. The ECG is a quick and non-invasive test which shows the electrical activity of the heart. When combined with screening questions it provides a way of assessing for a large number of the conditions which cause sudden cardiac death in athletes. There are a number of professional bodies who advocate its use in all people prior to starting any competitive sporting activities. We have the facilities to offer this screening service to our local population using our Cardiac Physiologist and Clinical Director who is a local GP. Between them they will assess the risk of the individual person recommending if further investigation is required. However, currently we do not have the funding to cover the additional hours and workload this testing would require.
As the ECG is a screening tool it will not be able to provide a specific diagnosis, any abnormalities would need further investigation. At present we do not have sufficient funding to be able to provide these further tests. There are 3 main further investigations which would prove incredibly useful:Echocardiogram, 24 to 48 hour ECG Monitor and an Exercise tolerance test. We would need to fund additional staffing and facility costs to provide this. We would also need to commission an additional service to undertake echocardiogram, and this would mean we offer a full screening service.
A simple test would provide a much needed service and potentially reach thousands of young individuals which with an early and accurate diagnosis could prevent and reduce the number of young people dying from sudden cardiac death.

Project Video


Moment of Pride

The project aims to tackle a real problem and could reduce the number of sudden cardiac deaths amongst our young. By providing this service, cardiac problems can be diagnosed and Heartbeat has the potential to prevent unnecessary deaths and save young lives in our community - this makes us proud.

Location: Preston