With the death of Sir Roger Moore, STARS (Syncope Trust – sister charity to the Arrhythmia Alliance) has lost one of its most loyal and longstanding supporters. We will miss him very much and have dedicated this year’s World Heart Rhythm Week (5-11 June) to his memory.
Sir Roger first became a Patron of STARS in 2003, shortly after he discovered that he himself suffered from an undiagnosed heart rhythm disorder when he collapsed on stage on Broadway, NY, USA. Luckily, he was taken straight to hospital and had a pacemaker fitted the very next day, which helped regulate an abnormally slow heart rate, known as bradycardia. Bradycardia is when the heart rate dips below 50 beats per minute and becomes critical when the heart rate goes below 40 beats per minute. It often runs in families. Sir Roger’s own father had suffered from blackouts/loss of consciousness in his later life, although the cause was never ascertained.
When I heard what had happened, I contacted Sir Roger to tell him that STARS was happy to offer support, advice and information. I left a message for him at 10pm one night and by 10am the next morning, he was on the phone, keen to learn more and immediately offered his assistance to the charity.
It was typical of him to offer so generously from the outset, and he exceeded all our expectations in terms of his dedication and commitment to our cause. If he could not attend an event in person, he always made a short video address. It was his voice that asked people to donate in radio appeals. He wrote to his celebrity friends and garnered their support too. We are very grateful that Sir Elton John, who also suffers from heart rhythm issues, agreed to become a Patron alongside Sir Roger and continues to offer his support.
Sir Roger also helped us launch the STARS Blackout check list which you can find at www.stars.org.uk
This checklist is designed to help people engage with their doctors to distinguish the different causes of loss of consciousness and ensure that the correct diagnosis is reached. The sad fact is that 39 per cent of children and 30 per cent of adults are misdiagnosed with epilepsy when they actually have an underlying, potentially fatal, arrhythmia (heart rhythm disorder). Of course, this may mean that they spend many years taking the wrong anti-convulsive drugs when they actually are suffering with a heart condition – commonly an arrhythmia.
I knew Sir Roger was ill so it wasn’t a total shock when I heard about his death. He was a lovely, professional, engaging and a true gentleman to all who approached him. He was a modest gentle man in his private life. It wasn’t just a public persona.
Sir Roger was a man who had great respect for others, and I had great respect for him. It is a great loss, not just to us, but everyone who gained so much from knowing him. We send condolences to his wife and family at this very sad time.