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Free Shetland heart screenings could save lives of young islanders

Man getting an ECG.
Shetlanders aged 14-35 can undergo potentially life-saving heart screenings this summer.

Hundreds of young Shetlanders will get potentially life-saving heart screenings this summer, following community efforts after the death of a popular sportsman.

In December 2017, 29-year-old Shetlander John Pirie, known to many as PJ, died of a cardiac arrest.

The Shetland Heart Screenings initiative was launched in his memory with hopes of getting young people to undergo tests which could prevent another tragedy.

John Pirie playing football
John Pirie enjoying a game of football.

‘Generally think they’re fit and healthy’

Now, as a result of the group’s fundraising, those aged 14-35 are getting the chance to book an ECG (electrocardiogram), designed to spot faults and irregularities in the heart.

Cardiologists and nurses will be travelling up to the isles from England over June 11-12 to make the £20,000 project happen.

And the organisation hopes this will be the first of many of these screenings.

Committee member Andrea Laurenson said: “We want to make free heart screening available to this age group, who may not have symptoms, as in 80% of cases of young cardiac death there are no prior symptoms of a heart defect.

PJ with his family the day before his cardiac arrest. To the left Siobhan Pirie, their daughter Merran, PJ and son Steven.

“PJ, who died at the 29, would’ve been within this age group that generally think they’re fit and healthy.

“We have a valid reason for offering specifically to this age group, for anyone who is over 35 and feels they are missing out.

“Above the age of 35 the commonest cause of sudden death is coronary artery disease, which is not identified on a resting ECG.”

How do you book one of the Shetland heart screenings?

During the booking process, participants are asked a series of basic health questions, including cardiac symptoms and relevant family history.

The free heart screenings will be held on June 11 (9am-4.30pm) and June 12 (9am-3pm) at the Clickamin’s bowls hall in Lerwick, Shetland.

A total of 200 appointment slots, each lasting 15 minutes, were made available at 2pm on Tuesday via

However, they were all snapped up in just 12 minutes, with a waiting list now in operation for cancellations via the Shetland Heart Screening Facebook page.

Shetland Heart Screening bookings are now ⭐️ live ⭐️ Please use this link to book your slot:

Posted by Shetland Heart Screening on Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Those who’ve had a sudden death of a family member under the age of 35 are entitled to a heart screening via the NHS.

Anyone feeling unwell prior to these screenings is advised to contact their GP or NHS24.

Read more:

Drinking within NHS guidelines ‘can increase risk of heart disease’

‘I was screaming in pain’: Heart attack victim relives near-death ordeal after being told no ambulance was available

‘If it can happen to him then it can happen to anyone’: School pupils shocked by Christian Eriksen cardiac arrest learn CPR

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