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St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has a long standing reputation for the treatment and research of inherited heart diseases. It has also led the study of unexplained sudden death (known as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome or SADS).

Dr Behr has developed the current inherited cardiac conditions service (ICC clinic) that provides a comprehensive service for families with genetic conditions, such as the Brugada syndrome, long QT syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic VT (CPVT), and cardiomyopathies, such as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The unit also specialises in seeing SADS families.

The service is designed to provide all necessary initial tests at the first visit. Dr Homfray, a medical geneticist, provides support to the clinic and a visiting children’s service is provided by Dr Till from the Royal Brompton Hospital. The consultants are supported by a genetic counselor and a British Heart Foundation funded genetics nurse.

Dr Sheppard, a national heart pathology expert from the Royal Brompton Hospital, provides expert testing of hearts where sudden death has occurred. Drs Bunce and Anderson provide the expertise for specialist testing involving echocardiograms (ultrasound of the heart) and heart magnetic resonance (MR) scans. The team take a holistic approach to the needs and assessment of a family.

The clinic has expanded rapidly with a quadrupling of referrals between 2008 and 2010. The unit at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is recognised for providing a high quality service in line with guidance from chapter 8 of the National Service Framework, a government initiative for the treatment of arrhythmia and sudden death. The Department of Health have selected St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as the model service to base a new payment system upon. This will allow for appropriate funding nationally for this complex and specialist service. In addition Dr Behr is active in Department of Health sponsored national planning initiatives for ICC services and heart pathology.

In 2010 Professor Sanjay Sharma joined the department to work closely with Dr Behr and Dr Anderson in developing further specialist SADS, cardiomyopathy and heart failure services. Professor Sharma is medical director for the London marathon and cardiologist for the 2012 Olympics, providing internationally recognised expertise in sports cardiology and the athlete’s heart. This development is backed strongly by the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) who will be supporting services and research at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust under Professor Sharma and Dr Behr.