Reducing unexpected deaths

A woman with eyes downcast

Every week three young people die unexpectedly from rare heart conditions they didn’t know they had. This is called Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

How SADS happens

The rhythm of the heart beat is controlled by natural electrical currents in our heart cells. Disruption of this electrical current can cause a disturbance to the heart beat that can lead to SADS.

Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome booklet

An inherited heart condition can affect one or several members of the same family. Sadly,some inherited cardiac conditions are often not diagnosed until one person dies suddenly and unexpectedly.

Download or order our Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome booklet.

Our ground-breaking research into SADS

Our scientists have been investigating the electrical and structural problems that lead to SADS, so that we can get better at identifying people at risk and provide treatments to prevent these tragic deaths.

Genetic clues

Professor Bill McKenna and his team were supported by your donations to identify genetic clues that might explain how this condition occurs.

A state of the art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine we provided helped the team learn more about how these genes might work to control heart function.

Predicting SADS risk

With help from our research funding, researchers at Papworth Hospital have developed a way to predict SADS risk by measuring electrical ‘disorganisation’ in the heart.

By identifying this type of electrical disturbance, the researchers hope to prevent SADS in people suffering from a range of different heart diseases. 

Saving lives

In the 1990s research by BHF Professor John Camm demonstrated the benefits of a device called an internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for patients at high risk of ventricular fibrillation.

He pioneered the use of these devices for people at risk of SADS. Patients at high risk can be fitted with an internal cardioverter defibrillator, which helps prevent SADS by giving the heart a kick-start when its rhythm is disrupted.

The future for SADS research

We fund a great many research projects looking at the genes and proteins that control the spread of electrical currents across the heart muscle.

It is thought that disruptions in this control might hold the key to understanding heart rhythm disturbances that cause SADS.

Support heart research

We need your donations to help us fund more cutting-edge heart research.