Cardiac death mystery solved?

Heart specialists from Cardiff University's School of Medicine have discovered the cause of sudden cardiac death and for the first time it is bringing hope for the development of a cure.

For those not familiar with sudden cardiac death syndrome, you may recall the condition caused the death of thirteen year old Owen Morris who died during a warm up session at Llanishen Rugby Club.

Scientists who discovered the cause of sudden cardiac death in young children say that for the first time it could be possible to pinpoint a therapeutic target for future efforts in developing a cure.

Heart specialists at Cardiff University found that incoherent communication between two vital proteins in heart cells was to blame for the previously inexplicable cause of death.

Professor Tony Lai from Cardiff University School of Medicine's Sir Geraint Evans Wales Heart Research Institute (WHRI) says:

"A healthy and regular heartbeat is maintained by precise control of the calcium level in heart muscle cells, but our experiments have identified a genetic flaw that invites chaos to this process"

In the future, Professor Lai anticipates that finding a way to intervene in ensuring a stable interaction between calmodulin and RyR in the heart will give doctors a new weapon in the fight against sudden cardiac death.

Steven Cox from the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) tells HEART:

"Young sudden cardiac death is caused by many different conditions, not all of which are genetic.”

“However, significant progress is being made in genetics and we hope this research will result in practices that can reduce the incidence of young sudden cardiac death.”

“In 80% of young sudden deaths there are no prior symptoms which is why CRY campaigns for all young people to have the opportunity to be tested.”

Our pioneering screening programme currently tests around 15,000 young people every year - and one in every 300 people we test has a potentially life threatening condition identified.”

“In the past 20 years. CRY believes there have been around 10,000 sudden deaths of young people, aged 35 and under. With more access to screening and research into the causes of these devastating conditions, we will be able to prevent these tragedies.”

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