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Research supports broader screening for sudden cardiac death
Date:11/1/2011

Around one in 500 Swedes carry a genetic mutation which can cause sudden cardiac death. The diagnosis can lead to major lifestyle changes, but quality of life can be maintained with the right advice and support, reveals a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The most common cause of sudden cardiac death in children and adolescents is the heart muscle disease hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition is hereditary, and if one family member is affected the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare recommends that the whole family is screened. This can lead to major upheavals in family members' lives: people who see themselves as healthy can suddenly get a diagnosis that necessitates big lifestyle changes and sometimes even lifelong medical treatment.

Physical effects of screening

In her thesis, Ewa-Lena Bratt, a paediatric nurse at the Queen Silvia Children's Hospital and doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy, looks at the physical effects of family screening and weighs them against the psychosocial effects and impact on quality of life. The study of parents and their children aged 7 to 25 at the Queen Silvia Children's Hospital reveals that the diagnosis itself rarely has a negative effect on quality of life.

Children and parents grateful

"Despite learning that they have a chronic and potentially life-threatening heart disease, both children and parents were grateful that the disease had been picked up before any serious complications arose, and that they could now call on medical treatment and advice," says Bratt. "The lifestyle changes, on the other hand, have a greater negative impact, not least for older children and adolescents who are already doing sport and now have to avoid unsuitable sporting activities."

Greater risk for adolescents

The risk of serious psychosocial effects is greater among adolesce
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Contact: Ewa-Lena Bratt
ewa-lena.bratt@vgregion.se
46-031-343-5139
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert  

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