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risk-of-sudden-cardiac-arrestAugust 3 2015

The UK National Screening Committee has recommended against screening for risk of sudden cardiac death or for Fragile X syndrome in pregnancy.

Sudden cardiac death happens “when a healthy young person’s heart suddenly stops beating, with little or no warning.” At its June meeting, the Committee considered the evidence behind several proposed ways of screening people aged 12 to 39, including electrocardiography, personal or family history, physical examination and a combination of these approaches.

“However, an updated evidence review suggested that the available tests were not accurate enough to correctly identify conditions which could lead to sudden cardiac death without wrongly identifying many people with healthy hearts,” said Public Health England.

Dr Anne Mackie, Director of Programmes for UK NSC, commented: “In addition to concerns about the test, there were uncertainties about the overall benefit of identifying people at risk, as currently the harms seem to outweigh the benefits.

“There is no agreed treatment for someone who has been identified as being at risk and an individual may become anxious about their physical activity and stop exercising regularly, which could have a negative effect on their overall health.”

She advised: “Anyone who has had palpitations, breathlessness or is related to someone who has died before 50 of unknown causes should see their GP for a personal check.”

With regards screening for Fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited learning disabilities in the UK, the UK NSC said there was no good evidence that treating or managing the condition in an infant would improve outcomes compared to a diagnosis in children. There were also no treatments that could be offered to those identified, hence its recommendation against Fragile X screening in pregnancy.

Link:

PHE announcement    

UK NSC     

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