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New cardiac clinic saves two lives in first year

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A new cardiac clinic designed to detect those at risk of sudden cardiac death syndrome has been credited with saving two lives in its first year of operation.

The Sudden Cardiac Death Syndrome Clinic – based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham – opened in May 2008 as a ‘one-stop’ service for families who have lost relatives unexpectedly.

A coroner can recommend that someone attends the clinic following an inquest into the death of a relative, or a GP or cardiologist can refer high-risk patients. They are then seen by a specialist nurse who plots their family tree and provides initial diagnostic and clinical assessments.

Among those referred, two people were diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a small device which gives electric shocks to ‘kick-start’ the heart.

‘There is a high probability that this intervention has resulted in two deaths avoided,’ said Michael Griffith, consultant cardiologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

‘If we identify just one person whose life can be saved, the clinic is doing its work. However, the probability is that, with the frequency of referrals increasing steadily, we are likely to see many more patients living longer than they might have done, thanks to our early intervention,’ he added.

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