At a glance: Sudden Adult Cardiac Death Syndrome (SADS)

What is it? About 400 apparently healthy young people die each year from SADS and 700,000 people in the UK suffer from arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, which can be anything from a minor inconvenience to potentially fatal.

Awful, but why should PROs be interested?

Because a new government-backed group is being set up to look into the condition and its remit includes writing a communications strategy to raise awareness in primary care practitioners of signs and symptoms of conditions leading to SADS.

What are the policy implications?

Public health minister Melanie Johnson said the body would also advise the Department of Health on policy. Stakeholders such as the British Cardiac Society have been invited to join and it will be chaired by Dr Roger Boyle, national clinical director for heart disease. Its efforts could lead to a new National Service Framework (NSF) chapter setting out what’s needed in terms of care for such conditions, which is seen as an extension to the existing NSF aimed at tackling coronary heart disease.

So there is scope for more involvement from pharma companies?

Preventing deaths and improving services is the obvious raison d’etre of this new group, which means a range of products and companies have a potential role to play. The fact that the Government is taking SADS seriously indicates there is a desire to listen to all interested parties.

But isn’t it still rather a narrow field?

Not at all. The most common causes of arrhythmia, for example, include heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart valve disorders and congenital anatomical heart defects. Very broad.

So we’re talking mainly about the older generation?

Again, no. An estimated one in 500 young adults is expected to benefit from the new group’s work, the Government says. And so are the 112,000 people with disorders of the electrical conduction system in the heart, such as Long QT syndrome, and people who have pacemakers.

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