Offaly clubs urged to sign up for life-saving heart screenings

RTÉ sports broadcaster Jacqui Hurley is calling on sports and social clubs from Offaly and across Ireland to sign up for vital and potentially life-saving heart screenings as part of laya healthcare’s ‘Big Screen’ campaign.

RTÉ sports broadcaster Jacqui Hurley is calling on sports and social clubs from Offaly and across Ireland to sign up for vital and potentially life-saving heart screenings as part of laya healthcare’s ‘Big Screen’ campaign.

Having tragically lost her cousin Nicole to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS), Jacqui is aware of the value of cardiac screening in helping to detect underlying conditions that may lead to or cause SADS, heart attacks and other cardiac-related conditions.

“SADS is something that you think will never affect you or your family,” says Jacqui, “yet each year 100 young people under 35 years die from SADS. The terrible tragedy is that it strikes with no warning, robbing families and friends of bright and talented young people who should have had their whole lives ahead of them - it’s like having the heart ripped from a community.

“In losing Nicole, I have seen the devastating impact of SADS firsthand. As a sports broadcaster, I see clubs and communities affected by SADS all too often with research showing that those most ‘at risk’ of SADS are those who play competitive sports that have an underlying susceptibility for heart problems. Tragically, many of these young people are not aware of the danger until it is too late,” she added.

Recognising the need for cardiac screening, laya healthcare launched the ‘Big Screen’ initiative to reduce the number of deaths from SADS in Ireland. In just weeks, laya healthcare has screened nearly 500 people from various sports clubs across the country. One in five of those screened have been recommended for further medical follow-up, such as follow-on cardiac screening, GP visits and blood pressure testing. A further 27% were recommended to make some simple lifestyle changes to improve their heart health.

“Cardiac screening can help detect conditions that may lead to incidents of SADS”, Jacqui added, “but the good news is that most of these conditions are treatable. Getting screened is the key and is the reason why I want clubs all over Ireland to join me in championing laya healthcare’s ‘Big Screen’. If we can save just one life through this incredible initiative it will be worth it.”

Laya healthcare’s ‘Big Screen’ is the biggest free mobile cardiac screening initiative of its kind in Ireland, with €100,000 worth of cardiac screenings up for grabs. There have been hundreds of nominations for screening so far, with Dublin’s Kilbarrack FC, Tipperary’s Toomevara GAA club, the Waterford Wolves American football club, Limerick’s Cycle for Sick Children, and Tralee’s Austin Stacks GAA among some of the lucky clubs to have been screened to date.

Commenting on the ‘Big Screen’ initiative, Dónal Clancy, Managing Director at laya healthcare, said, “Approximately one hundredyoung people die each year as a result of SADS and for us this is 100 too many. SADS occurs with no warning affecting super-fit athletes as well as ordinary young people. At laya healthcare we are investing close to €1million to help increase public awareness of SADS. The good news is that most of the conditions that cause SADS can be treated but it all starts with screening. We hope that clubs all across Ireland embrace the Big Screen as much as we have – the potential benefits are priceless.”

The laya healthcare ‘Big Screen’ campaign is open to all types of sports and social clubs, no matter how big or small, or what level of skill or fitness is involved. Whether you are a rugby club, swimming group, dance troop, hill walking society, karate club, GAA club or more, laya healthcare wants you to get involved today.

To nominate your club for free heart screenings please like the laya healthcare Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LayaHealthcare), and follow the simple steps on screen. For more information visit http://www.layahealthcare.ie/bigscreencomp

Jacqui Hurley is an ambassador for laya healthcare’s ‘Big Screen’ campaign. Jacqui is also an ambassador for the Irish charity CRY, which raises awareness and offers support to those affected by sudden cardiac death, and funds the activities including free screening at the Centre for Cardiac Risk in Younger Persons (CRYP) in Tallaght Hospital.