Kent and Canterbury Hospital consultant Ashley Cooper died of rare heart condition, inquest told
Dr Ashley Cooper died at
Kent and Canterbury Hospital after a cardiac arrest
by Gerry Warren
Doctors are still struggling to understand a rare heart
condition that led to the death of a leading specialist at
Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Father-of-two Dr Ashley Cooper, who was just 38 and a consultant
dermatologist, suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in Bridge.
Dr Cooper (pictured right) died six days later at the
hospital where he worked having never regained
However, a pathologist told an inquest a post mortem and
detailed study of his heart by a specialist did not reveal any
Dr Salim Anjarwalla said the most likely cause of death was a
functional disturbance in the heart resulting in what is known as
Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.
He said: "The exact reason why it happens is still unclear but
something went wrong and there was most likely a disturbance in
electrical conductivity in the heart.
"That is the presumption because it is impossible to ascertain
and can only be detected in life.
"However, tragically, it is not uncommon and there are about 500
cases a year, predominantly in young males."
Dr Anjarwalla said there could be a genetic link and advised Dr
Cooper's family members to be promptly screened.
Coroner Rebecca Cobb heard Dr Cooper's wife Clare, 40, had
been unable to wake her husband early in the morning of December 16
at their home in Beech Hill.
She tried to revive him while waiting for paramedics to arrive
and he was then taken to Kent and Canterbury Hospital, where he was
on a life support machine in inensive care for six days.
Recording that his death was from natural causes, Miss Cobb
said: "It is always slightly unsatisfactory not to be able to say
exactly what caused a death. However, a percentage of young people
do suffer these unexpected cardiac arrests which cannot be
"Sadly, all that can be done is to hopefully prevent it
happening to other family members."
Dr Ashley Cooper worked
at Kent and Canterbury Hospital
Speaking after the inquest, Dr Cooper's wife Clare, who is a
furniture designer and cabinet-making, said: "We were aware of what
the outcome would be.
"We have also been given advice and information about the
screening, which is a formality in these cases."
She said more than £1,000 raised at Dr Cooper's funeral and
subsequently would be donated to the dermatology department.
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