On Saturday 26th August, the Bodyforce team organised a fundraising event at the rec in Olney to raise money for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) in memory of local teenager Alden Price, who sadly passed away suddenly on 22 May this year from an undiagnosed heart condition. He was just 18.
“After being out skateboarding, Alden collapsed at home,” explains his father, Steve. “He was taken to hospital - but they couldn’t get his heart to work again, and he died the next day.”
Tests confirmed that Alden had a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM - a condition where the heart muscle thickens and increases the chances of sudden cardiac death.
And Alden is not alone. Every week in the UK, around 12 young people under 35 die suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition. And around four fifths of these occur with no previous symptoms.
The Olney community coming together
Stuart Dorrill, owner of Bodyforce explains: “When we heard the news, the Bodyforce team wanted to support Steve and his family and raise both money and awareness. Thanks to all came along to our event in August, our members and local businesses and clubs for supporting this event, particularly Olney Town Football Club, Olney Rugby Football Club, Olney Town Council and Cox and Co. Accounting!”
“The event was amazing and very humbling,” says Steve. “Thank you to Stuart and everyone who gave up their time, money and donated prizes.
We have raised an incredible £4350, and my employer will match this, so that’s £8700 from this event alone - and this total is rising rapidly!”
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) affects 1 in every 500 young people, and is the most common cause of death in this group. The thickened heart muscle makes it more vulnerable to conditions that can cause sudden cardiac death, such as life-threatening heart rhythms.
Diagnosing HCM can be tricky. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath and/or chest pains on physical exertion, palpitations (a rapid and/or irregular heart beat), light-headedness or blackouts. But many people with HCM never experience any symptoms.
The importance of screening
Doctors test for HCM by carrying out an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an ultrasound scan of the heart (an echocardiogram, or ECHO).
“In 95% of people with HCM, ECG abnormalities are seen long before an ECHO reveals any heart thickening,” explains Dr Steven Cox, Chief Executive of CRY. “A screening ECG will identify most heart problems, so people can be referred for further tests.”
CRY has developed a pioneering screening programme which tests around 23,000 young people across the UK every year, including a cardiac screening service for young people between 14 and 35 at local schools, sports clubs or community venues. “We want to prevent a young person from collapsing,” says Dr Cox. “One in every 300 of the young people we test will be identified with a potentially life-threatening condition, and they can then take steps to reduce their risk.”
“We believe every 14 year old should have access to free cardiac screening, including those playing organised sport at elite and grass roots level as is the case with the international guidelines,” explains Dr Cox. “Although sport does not cause sudden cardiac death, it increases the risk three-fold in someone with an underlying heart condition. Currently cardiac screening is not offered to young people and we want the UK Government to re-think this approach.”
“I’d love to raise enough money to bring a screening unit to Olney to screen young people in our area,” says Steve. “Identifying one person at risk and preventing their family and friends going through the trauma that we have would be an incredible legacy for Alden. He was always looking out for people and wanted to help them, so he’d be really proud.”
To contribute, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steve-price15
For more information about heart conditions and screening, go to: www.c-r-y.org.uk or visit www.testmyheart.org
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