9 May 2012 (updated 11 May)
Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust has opened an innovative joint paediatric, adolescent and adult screening clinic for inherited cardiac conditions.
The clinic, which is one of the first of its kind in the UK, screens all family members, completing all diagnostic tests for inherited heart muscle diseases, such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), on the same day. Clinicians carry out routine echocardiogram and electrocardiogram tests, as well as MRI scans and genetic testing to gain more detailed information. The tests and consultations, which previously took up to five visits, are now completed in one, resulting in faster turnaround time and less stress for patients.
Having DCM or HCM does not normally affect a person’s quality of life or lifespan. However, for some people, it can have significant symptoms such as dizziness, heart palpitations or chest pain and, for a minority, there is a risk of sudden death. Dr Sanjay Prasad
, consultant in cardiology and cardiovascular magnetic resonance at Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “We have many services for children and for adults, but not necessarily for adolescents. This new clinic is a streamlined service for families.”
"Because it is a familial condition often patients suffer the dilemma of not knowing whether their offspring have the condition. And the genetics allows us to take things to a higher level where we can reassure patients that if they haven't got the gene abnormality, they should be leading a normal lifestyle." Dr Piers Daubeney
, consultant paediatric and foetal cardiologist, explained: “We started running this clinic because we wanted to offer a one-stop shop to families with concerns about inherited cardiomyopathy. It is an ideal additional service for a hospital that specialises in caring for heart patients from before birth and throughout their lives.”
Read BBC reporter Adam Brimelow’s report about Royal Brompton Hospital’s cardiomyopathy screening clinic – “Screening clinic shows ‘huge promise’ for hidden heart problems”
You can also listen to Radio 4's 'Today' programme
, which featured details of the clinic with comments from Dr Prasad and a young patient, on 11 May - coverage starts approximately 53 minutes into the programme.
The new clinic comes at a time when public awareness of undetected heart conditions in young people is high, following Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba’s collapse on the pitch and, more recently, an Australian lawyer who collapsed while jogging in Hyde Park