IntroductionFootballer's collapse highlights debate on testing for inherited heart conditions.
The tragic collapse, from a suspected heart attack, of Bolton Wanderers’ midfielder Fabrice Muamba has led to renewed calls for improved screening for inherited heart conditions. Whilst Fabrice Muamba’s condition appears to be improving, similar incidents are not uncommon - particularly amongst young athletes, and sadly these often prove fatal. It is estimated that each week within the UK up to eight, apparently healthy, young people succumb to so-called “sudden cardiac death”. A considerable number of these fatalities result from inherited heart disorders.The role that screening for genetic heart conditions could play in reducing the numbers of young people dying from sudden cardiac death will be explored at a deliberative event taking place at venues across Scotland on Tuesday 3 April 2012. Organised by Gengage: The Scottish Healthcare Genetics Public Engagement Network, and forming part of the 2012 Edinburgh International Science Festival, the event brings together experts, those affected by sudden cardiac death, and other interested members of the public to consider new screening technologies, and what more can be done to identify and potentially address the condition., Gengage Co-ordinator, commented:“Tragically, sudden cardiac death affects young people throughout Scotland, and can be particularly prevalent in young athletes. At present, no systematic procedures exists for conducting genetic tests on these young people, or for following up with relatives who may also be at risk. New technologies now allow us to screen for sudden cardiac death resulting from inherited conditions, and this event will provide an opportunity to debate how Scotland can best apply these.”, Director of the Genomics Forum, stated:“When a young, fit person suddenly collapses there is an understandable focus on determining the cause of death and ensuring that no foul play is involved. But emphasis should also be put on working out if such fatalities result from inherited genetic disorders, as this may prompt testing to discover if the deceased person’s relatives might also be unknowingly affected by the same genetic condition." Further details on the event – which will video-link audiences in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, the Western Isles, Orkney, and Shetland with experts and participants in Edinburgh – can be found on the Gengage website.Gengage (The Scottish Healthcare Genetics Public Engagement Network) brings together, promotes and supports individuals and organisations working in Scotland to increase public awareness, dialogue and debate on issues to do with healthcare genetics. Gengage is managed by the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum based at the University of Edinburgh.