What is SADS?

Although commonly referred to as Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SAD), it is also known by the term Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome. The condition is most common in those under the age of 40 but affects younger age groups as well. 

According to the British Heart Foundation, the term is used to describe deaths from cardiac arrest where the cause cannot be determined.

The UK has seen an unexplained surge in deaths in recent months. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show about 10% more deaths than expected since April this year. In the week ending 12 August England registered 9670 deaths including 878 excess deaths, 10% above the five-year average. Wales registered 661 deaths, including 73 excess deaths.

I can guess what you the reader must be thinking. Many suggestions have been put forward but there is little agreement so far on the cause or causes to why there’s been approximately 22,500 more deaths between April and August than would normally be expected. A spokesperson for the UK government’s Department of Health and Social Care says: “Analysis is ongoing; however, investigation suggests circulatory diseases and diabetes may be partly responsible for the majority of excess deaths.” This could include covid-19, population ageing and NHS problems too.

This is being investigated not only in the U.K but worldwide as it’s not only the elderly dying but more alarmingly the young. We hear of the young collapsing having a cardiac death and when ask why, the cause is unknown.

The British heart foundation created a T.V advert in January 2022 called “This is Science.” At the one-minute mark, viewers witness the jarring moment when a young girl suddenly drops to the ground during a football match. Which is exactly what we have been witnessing the last couple years when seeing our athletes collapse mid-game.

After its release, there was an outcry among many that the charity was using scare tactics in its marketing efforts and that it was ‘normalizing’ heart attacks in children.

With so many young dying, one must ask why they created an advert like this if not to normalise it? Conspiracy theories aside, some people felt that the British Heart Foundation really missed the mark on this campaign. They blamed anti-vaxxers so the British Heart Foundation shared a Drum article on “How do you convince anti-vaxxers to get vaccinated?”

Verywell Health wrote: “The odds that any given athlete will die suddenly are very small. Estimates range from 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 80,000 a year. The large majority of these sudden deaths are related to underlying cardiac conditions that were undiagnosed beforehand.” The article was fact checked and medically approved as accurate. Yet articles of the young dying are on our news feed daily where Cardiac Deaths are up to 80% and these athletes who died suddenly had no symptoms or family history of heart disease.

How can parents, coaches and others know if a young person is at risk of sudden cardiac death?

Many times, sudden cardiac death occurs without warning. When warning signs occur, they may go unrecognized. Take note and ask if a health checkup is needed for anyone who has:

  • Unexplained fainting (syncope).Fainting that occurs during activity or exercise could mean that there’s a heart problem.
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain.These symptoms could be a sign of a heart problem. But they can be caused by asthma, so it’s important to get a thorough health evaluation.
  • Family history of sudden cardiac death.Having a family history of sudden cardiac death makes a person more likely to have the same type of heart event. If there’s a family history of unexplained deaths, talk with a health care provider about screening options.

    To find out more about what is happening behind the scenes and on the ground, watch what John O’looney has to say, a funeral director from Milton Keynes.


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