The fight for every heartbeat is powered by research, and with your help we’re driving the fight forward as the UK’s leading independent funder of heart research.
Jenni Stevens, 41, was rushed to hospital after collapsing with chest pains. She was given a new high–sensitivity test which had been developed by BHF researchers, and diagnosed with a heart attack.
“I’d been having chest pains for about a month.
“One day as I was walking in to work, the pain got much worse, and when I got there I collapsed.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the new test was there for me. Who knows what might have happened if I hadn’t had that test.
“I’m not an obvious candidate for heart disease. You look at me, a 41–year–old woman and relatively healthy, and there are no big warning signs.
“I feel very grateful that I am sitting here healthy because of research by the British Heart Foundation.”
In 2015 BHF–funded researchers made a remarkable discovery.
When people go to hospital with chest pain, doctors carry out tests to check if it’s caused by a heart attack. Blood levels of a protein called troponin are an indicator of a heart attack. Our researchers discovered that less troponin is released in women, and conventional blood tests fail to detect these low levels. Using a more sensitive test our researchers found they could help more women get urgent treatment.
Using this more sensitive troponin test, the team diagnosed heart attacks in twice as many of their female patients.
We’re now funding a bigger study to determine if acting on the results of the new test translates into better health for patients. If it does, the test is likely to be adopted by emergency departments across the globe, and more women will receive the urgent treatment they need.
We’re dedicated to keeping the nation’s hearts healthy, driving towards our challenge to reduce premature cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths by 25 per cent by 2025.
Feebs was in her early 40s when doctors diagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. She decided to take control of her health, improving her diet and taking up regular exercise, in order to reduce her risk.
“My father has diabetes but I didn’t believe it would ever happen to me.
“So when I went to the doctor and I found out I had Type 2 diabetes it was such a shock. I honestly went through life thinking: ‘It’s not going to happen to me.’
“I soon had to start taking medication to manage my condition.
“Making lifestyle changes can be hard, but I know I’m at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease. I had to change what I was eating and do more exercise.”
Our policy and health promotion work is informed by scientific evidence. Research helps us to focus on interventions that will have the greatest impact in the fight to beat CVD.
In March 2015 we celebrated a landmark victory for heart health, when parliament voted to ban branded packaging of tobacco products.
The historic decision came after years of tireless campaigning by us, our supporters, and other health bodies.
Smoking causes around 100,000 premature deaths every year in the UK, and tighter tobacco control measures are desperately needed. Results from Australia, where standardised packs have been mandatory since 2012, prove that it’s an effective step.
From May 2016 the new rules will better protect young people from taking up a habit that kills, and encourage more UK smokers to protect their hearts by giving up. Thank you to all our campaigners for urging MPs to vote to give future generations a healthier future.
Too many people lose their lives to cardiac arrest because too few people know how to help. By 2020 we’re determined that more lives will be saved because bystanders are trained.
Best friends Huw and Giorgio have an extraordinary life saving skill; they learnt how to do CPR. They found they needed to use that skill to help save a life.
“We were hanging out with our friends and Huw went to get money from the cash machine.
“That’s when we saw a man who had collapsed on the ground.
“We’d learnt CPR in air cadets. You never think you’re going to have to use it, but when you’re in that situation it all comes back to you.”
“It was an amazing feeling that what we did that night actually paid off. We jumped into action and saved a life.
“It would be a revolutionary idea if a generation could come out of school with the skills and knowledge to save a life.”
In October 2014 we launched Nation of Lifesavers, a UK–wide campaign to give people the skills they need to become a lifesaver if they witness a cardiac arrest.
Less than one in ten people survive a cardiac arrest out of hospital in the UK. This is partly because bystanders don’t have the skills or confidence to perform CPR.
Our new quick–and–simple CPR training programme—Call Push Rescue—enables schools, workplaces and community groups to teach the life saving skills needed in the ultimate medical emergency.
Over the year we’re aiming for 500,000 more people to be trained in CPR.
We’ll also put pressure on the new Government to mandate life saving training in schools.
Join our Nation of Lifesavers
We’re committed to pushing for high–quality care for all, and being the first stop for trusted information for patients and their families.
We’ve supported the NHS to raise standards of care for thousands of heart patients across the UK, helping people like Ken Gratton.
Heart failure meant he didn’t have the breath to walk 25 yards. But thanks to a BHF–funded project to treat heart failure patients at home, Ken says he’s got his mobility and his life back.
“After my heart failure my heart wasn’t pumping properly and I had built up a huge amount of fluid in my lungs and my body.
“I had lived an active life, my jobs were physical and active, so this was hard to accept.
“I went to hospital and the consultant referred me to the team with BHF–funded nurses.
“The next day the team came and saw me and started pumping diuretics into me.
“It made a tremendous difference. My breathing is better and I can walk as far as I want.
“The service was excellent, and now they don’t come, I miss them!”
We’ve supported the NHS to raise standards of care for thousands of heart patients across the UK.
By tracking the care given to patients, and their subsequent health, research can identify the best tests and treatments and highlight common lapses in care.
Research funded by your donations this year showed the importance of ensuring all elements of care for heart attack patients are optimally delivered. A team in Leeds revealed that patients who miss at least one of nine standard treatments for a heart attack have a 74% increased risk of death within a year. Shockingly, treatments were missed in around half of the 31,000 cases reviewed.
Find out how we can help you
Leonia Modeste is a heart failure nurse and a member of the BHF Alliance. She says the training she’s received helps her give her patients who are suffering the breathlessness and exhaustion of heart failure the best possible care and support.
“I’ve seen what ‘courage’ really means.
“I’ve seen people living with heart failure struggle to do everyday things.
“We’re trying to prevent hospital admissions so it’s about teaching people to recognise and manage their symptoms so they stay as well as possible, and out of hospital.
“It’s also teaching their families and carers about the condition so they can understand what’s happening.
“I want to do the best for my patients, and the BHF Alliance has helped me make sure my skills and knowledge are up to date.”
Our fight against heart disease is made even more powerful by working with our connected BHF communities. Our life saving work is shaped and informed by actively engaging with our stakeholders.
We’ve supported specialist roles for many years, but it’s not only specialists who make decisions about the care of people living with heart disease. We recognised a need for training and mentorship in a broader range of professionals.
In the first year after widening our reach, BHF Alliance membership rose by 353 to a total of 1,564. New ‘non–cardiac’ members include physiotherapists, practice nurses and dieticians.
We’ll grow the Alliance by a further 1,000 professionals in the next year. All new members will have access to skills development and training to help them provide the best possible support to heart patients in their care.
Learn more about the BHF alliance and become a member
Our lifesaving work relies on the generosity of our remarkable supporters, and the drive of our extraordinary volunteers and staff.
Terri Gormley, 40, spent 20 years bringing up her children. Volunteering in a BHF shop got her back into the workplace, and she grabbed the opportunity to get experience and qualifications.
“I left school at 16 with no qualifications.
“I first went to a BHF shop on a work placement and enjoyed it so much that when my placement ended I carried on as a volunteer.
“I enjoyed it because it was something other than being a mum. It was a chance to be me again.
“While I was volunteering I gained qualifications. I got three NVQs, in customer services, retail and team leading. And I did four weeks of managerial training.
“It built my confidence a lot. Ten months later an assistant manager role came up, and I got the job.”
This year you donated more than ever before to the fight against heart disease.
One inspirational project funded this year from your donations aims to use cutting–edge tissue engineering to improve the treatment of severe heart defects in children.
Professor Paolo Madeddu and his team at the University of Bristol will grow tissue grafts from human heart cells. They think these will be better for young patients than current synthetic grafts, because they will grow as the child grows avoiding the need for repeated operations during childhood and adolescence. The team will be working hard to refine the grafts in the lab, before they can take the next step of testing their safety and performance.
The launch of our new strategy in August 2014 was a proud moment for the charity, and heralded a major evolution in the way we work so we can help even more people like Mark.
Mark McLean is six and has undergone open heart surgery three times. All the staff and pupils in his primary school took part in Wear it. Beat it. on 6 February. Mark’s mum Linda tells the story.
“We found out when I was pregnant that our baby had a problem with his heart. Doctors told us he would need surgery within five weeks of being born.
“You don’t know what to do with yourself during the hours your child is being operated on.
“Mark did well afterwards. He had two further operations, one when he was nine months and one just recently when he was six.
“His school took part in Wear it. Beat it. They all dressed up in red, wore red wigs, had healthy food and had a lot of fun.
“If Mark had been born 20 years ago he probably wouldn’t be here today.”
British Heart Foundation is a registered Charity No. 225971. Registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No. 699547. Registered office at Greater London House, 180 Hampstead Road, London NW1 7AW. Registered as a Charity in Scotland No. SC039426