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Early detection of heart disease key to avoid sudden death of young people: study


09:43, October 31, 2012

VANCOUVER, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- A study released Monday said that a significant amount of cardiac arrests in the Canadian province of Ontario happened on otherwise healthy, young individuals, underscoring the need for detecting heart disease early.

Dr. Andrew Krahn, new Head of the Division of Cardiology in the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, presented the study at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress about sudden cardiac death in Ontario.

Reviewing coroners' reports, Dr. Krahn and a team of researchers found that among 174 cases of presumed sudden death in Ontario in 2008 in people aged two to 40 years, heart disease was present in 126 cases, or 72 percent.

Besides, 78 percent of these heart disease patients were unrecognized, according to the research.

"This research gives us an idea of the scope of the problem - there are almost 200 young people who die suddenly every year in Ontario. A good proportion of them have unrecognized heart disease. So the question is: How can we catch this before it happens?" Dr. Krahn said.

He suggested more attention be paid to possible warning signs such as fainting. He believed that teachers, coaches and an aware public may be key to detecting risk, ensuring prevention and formal medical evaluation and therapy.

"I would advocate for careful screening of people who faint, using questionnaires and education of healthcare professionals so that when warning signs present themselves, they recognize them and this information gets passed on to the right people," he said.

Dr. Beth Abramson, a researcher from Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, said training in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the placement of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, arenas and gyms could save the lives of many.

"The odds of surviving a cardiac arrest can increase to up to 75 percent when early CPR is used in combination with an AED in the first few minutes," she said.

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