Heart Conditions (Screening)

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd March 2005.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton 11:30 am, 22nd March 2005

If he will introduce screening for abnormal heart conditions in all young people.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

The UK National Screening Committee, which advises the Government on all aspects of screening, does not recommend population screening for abnormal heart conditions, as current evidence does not support this.

Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton

Although I welcome the fact that the condition is included in the national service framework for coronary heart disease, is the Minister aware that sudden cardiac death kills eight fit young people under 35 each week in this country, and that the charity CRYCardiac Risk in the Young—which was set up 10 years ago, has introduced four screening centres and donated more than £400,000-worth of cardiac equipment to GP surgeries and hospitals? Why will the Government not recognise the condition and set up a national screening programme?

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

I have already answered that question. The UK National Screening Committee does not recommend that course of action, and we take expert advice. The hon. Lady is right to say that there is a new chapter in the national service framework on arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, which was published only on 4 March. Testing for certain heart problems is offered, where appropriate, to close relatives of those who have died suddenly. I appreciate the numbers involved—I am well aware of the information campaigns. Under the new chapter, it is a marker of good practice that any young person who is experiencing symptoms suggesting an abnormal heart condition is referred to a paediatric cardiologist and given treatment accordingly.