Saturday 18 November 2017

Raise awareness of SADS and get screened

The wonderfully talented Tyrone footballer, Cormac McAnallen, who died prematurely. Photo: Brendan Moran.
The wonderfully talented Tyrone footballer, Cormac McAnallen, who died prematurely. Photo: Brendan Moran.

Gerry Duffy

Every so often, sadly, we read about somebody in Ireland who has died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). On average, two people per week die from this condition. This week's column is not to scare, rather it is to highlight and to recommend.

Since the premature death of the wonderfully talented Tyrone GAA star Cormac McAnallen, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome has been brought significantly into the Irish psyche. Ever since Cormac's passing – he was just 24 years of age – many positives have been initiated, which, thankfully, are helping to save lives. Defibrillators are one such visible example and are now commonplace in thousands of locations where people congregate.

Another lead has been taken by the Gaelic Players Association. Ten years after Cormac's death, it offers screening to the inter-county players who now grace our GAA pitches. What a wonderful tribute this pays to the memory of the Tyrone full-back and winner of the All-Ireland Football Championship in 2003.

In the Irish Independent just a few weeks ago, a journalist highlighted the story of Dublin football back-room statistician Seaghan Kearney, who collapsed after suffering sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately, he recovered as he was in the company of a man who had a background in the fire service and who reacted immediately by giving him timely medical intervention.

My reason for dedicating this week's column to the subject, is to encourage you – if you are in this demographic – to go and get checked. Awareness of the value of screening is spreading. Without having to do a large amount of research, I found evidence of the promotion of this procedure by Ireland rugby head coach Joe Schmidt and Premier League soccer star David Meyler.

Philip Neville of Heartaid – a company that specialises in cardiac screening – says: "There is no evidence that pre-participation cardiac screening deters young athletes from participating in competitive sports. On the contrary, promoting safe exercise is likely to achieve the most important goal of Western healthcare organisations: a reduction in the cardiovascular disease burden. Cardiac screening of young, impressionable persons also has the potential to raise awareness of cardiac disease and to promote healthier life habits in the future."

Mobile screening is now available in Ireland and is widely available and accessible to schools, clubs and organisations. As a guide, screening can be easily obtained for considerably less than €100. One health insurance provider is so positive about it, it offers it free to its members.

It is your body and your life. As Jim Rohn said: "Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live." To safeguard your future well-being, consider getting screened for this condition. You will be glad you did. It offers great peace of mind.

So, please, spread the word.

Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete.

Irish Independent

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