Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Grieving mum's plea over heart check-ups

James Steen was studying Civil Engineering at Queen's University Belfast
James Steen was studying Civil Engineering at Queen's University Belfast

A mother has issued an emotional plea for all young people to undergo heart checks after her son's sudden death.

James Stuart Steen, from Kilmore, Crossgar, was discovered dead in the changing rooms of the River Island store in Belfast's Donegall Place on February 25 by a sales assistant.

Yesterday, at the inquest into the death of the 20-year-old, who was studying civil engineering at Queen's University, the cause of death was recorded as undetermined.

Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram said he may have had an unknown heart rhythm abnormality and recommended his relatives be screened for genetic problems.

His mother Deirdre told the Belfast Telegraph: "His father died eight years ago and James was my rock, he got me through that.

"He was fit and active, but not super-fit.

"He enjoyed hillwalking and all outdoor activities, such as kayaking and badminton.

"The charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) recommend all young people be tested for sudden arrhythmia death syndromes (SADS), not just the more famous sports players.

"Any life can be at risk," she said.

"This is much more common than most people think.

"Anything that would encourage any other young person to get tested would be great, if it prevents some other mother suffering as I am."

Analysis of Mr Steen's heart and brain found no health problems and there was no trace of legal or illegal drugs or alcohol found during toxicology tests.

Mr Steen's GP, Dr Patrick Sharkey, confirmed he had never attended with any chest pains or anything to suggest heart problems.

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