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Screening

Is there an upper age limit for heart screening?

No, there is not an age barrier to undergoing screening. However, it is important to understand that there are different likely causes of SCD in those under 35 years old compared with those over 35. Most causes of SCD in those less than 35 years of age are due to inherited cardiac abnormalities affecting the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), disorders of the electrical system of the heart or anatomical anomalies of the coronary arteries. The tests used in cardiac screening, ECG and Echo, aim to identify the majority of these abnormalities.

ECG and Echo in the over 35s are useful for exclusion of many inherited heart conditions. However, in this age group acquired cardiac problems, in particular coronary artery disease, i.e. "furring up" of the coronary arteries, become more important as causes of SCD. Unless the person has already sustained a heart attack there will be no evidence of the presence of underlying coronary artery disease on a resting ECG. Therefore more detailed tests, such as an exercise stress test or some other type of stress test may be recommended in addition to ECG and Echo in this age group.  

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