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Mum wants better heart screening for fit' athletes

PUBLISHED: 18:32 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:57 12 August 2010

A MOTHER devastated by the sudden death of her youngest son is calling for better heart screening amongst young athletes.

A MOTHER devastated by the sudden death of her youngest son is calling for better heart screening amongst young athletes.

Retired teacher Barbara Hollands, from Chislehurst, was horrified when her son Phil, 23, died suddenly from a cardiac arrest during a church service in 2002.

Phil, the youngest of four brothers was a talented sportsman who studied maths at university and was studying to become an accountant.

His mother has since retrained as a bereavement councillor for charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and is campaigning for heart screening for young people.

She said: "We did have Phil checked when he was young because there was a family history of heart problems but we were told there was nothing wrong.

"At Christmas 2002, he collapsed while we were in church and died. It was a complete shock and very traumatic. He was very sociable and very fit, he loved sport and went to the gym regularly.

"All young athletes should be screened because although sport doesn't cause the problem, it can make it worse. Anyone who is experiencing random palpitations or fainting for no reason should get themselves checked out."

On October 15, Mrs Hollands was at a major parliamentary reception with rowing champion Olympian James Cracknell who is a patron for CRY.

Chief executive and founder of the charity, Alison Cox MBE, said: "We feel it is time relaunch this powerful campaign to emphasise the importance of screening and the fact that so many of these tragic cases affecting fit and healthy young people could have been prevented.

"We need to keep up the pressure and engage support from as many MPs as possible to ensure we can prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies."

Shocking new statistics show the number of young people who die from sudden cardiac death now stands at 12 every week which is a staggering 50 per cent rise on previous estimates.

It has been found that young people who were thought to have died in car crashes or from drowning were actually killed by cardiac arrests.

The figures are based on numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and have been analysed by leading heart experts, including consultant cardiologist, Dr Sanjay Sharma from London's King's College Hospital.

CRY, which is supported by leading sports personalities including Sir Steve Redgrave, Paula Radcliffe, Sir Ian Botham offers heart screening from around £30. For more information, see www.c-r-y.org.uk.

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