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Life with a timebomb.

SCOTTISH pupils are to be the first in Britain to be screened for a time-bomb heart condition which claims 200 lives a year.

Schoolchildren throughout West Lothian will be offered tests to establish if they have the killer illness known as Sudden Death Sydrome (SDS).

Formally called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, it is the most common cause of unexpected death among under-30s and claims four lives a week.

It is tends to strike fit, healthy young people like athletes because they stress their hearts more.

Now ECG chest examinations will be offered to all 4,500 secondary school pupils in West Lothian to establish if they have the condition.

Mum-of-two Shona Hill, 43, from Falkirk, was shocked when she was diagnosed as having SDS as she prepared to give birth to her second child.

In 1988 - at 31 and with her whole life ahead of her - she felt she'd been given a "death sentence".

And when her 15-year-old nephew died from the condition three years later she thought she might never see her children grow up. "I was breathless, had a chronic cough and kept wondering what was wrong.

"When I was diagnosed I was devastated. All I could think about was getting through the birth."

Mrs Hill was fitted with a pacemaker and still limits herself to doing one "major" thing a day.

She spends much of her time looking after son William, 14, and daughter Kathryn, 11, at their home in Carronshore, Falkirk. They have been cleared of any evidence of the disease after tests in London. "That was the best news ever," she said.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Tempest, Matthew
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 23, 1999
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