A database has been launched that may save thousands of lives by recording the incidence of a fatal heart condition which can strike without warning, the government has said.
Sudden cardiac death can happen unexpectedly in apparently fit and healthy people. The main cause of cases involving those under the age of 35 is an inheritable heart condition.
Designed by pathologists and cardiologists, and funded by the Department of Health, the database will help pathologists record cases referred to them by coroners. This information will ultimately allow doctors to understand better where and why these inheritable heart conditions are occurring.
With a greater knowledge of the incidence, prevalence and causes of sudden cardiac death, doctors will be able to identify better people at risk from one of these conditions and help them get access to the services they need.
Patrick Gallagher, Co-Chair of the UK Cardiac Pathology Network (UKCPN), said: "This is a most welcome development. Pathologists obtain important information from careful postmortem examination of young sudden-death victims.
"This database will ensure that this information is recorded and retained centrally. It is important that details of the postmortem examination are available to cardiologists and geneticists who will be investigating relatives of sudden-death victims."