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How pioneering research has given hope against heart disease

Posted on: 28 March 2018 by Anthony Page

50 years of breakthroughs and achievements as a result of research funded by British Heart Foundation

operating theatre

We often hear news announcements about new research that will help cure some life threatening condition or illness. As good as this news is to society generally it invariably comes with the caveat that it may be years before these breakthroughs will actually save lives.

This is the very nature of research – long-term investment of money and resources; lots of painstaking work but when a breakthrough is made it has the power to have life-altering impact! British Heart Foundation (BHF) is at the forefront of this world, working with the research teams, developing their plans and championing their successes.

For the past 50 years, this has been the work of the BHF – fundraising for and commissioning research into heart disease. It is a world where there are no quick wins – painstaking commitment and dedication of our research teams over years of work testing, re-engineering processes and procedures, trials and then finally success. It’s then that patients all over the UK start to get the benefits. This is why legacy bequests are so very important to BHF – a constant flow of money over the years to fund research and help stamp out heart disease. Good health makes for a good life that’s why helping to fund research is so worthwhile. 

Here are some of the breakthroughs funded over the past 50 years – you will recognise most if not all of them and may well have been helped by them yourself or by someone in your family.

1960s: Heart-lung bypass machines

The development of this technology in the 1960s was the major breakthrough that enabled open heart surgery and heart transplants to become a reality saving tens of thousands of lives worldwide.

1970s: Clot busting drugs

BHF-funded research into blood clots causing heart attacks paved the way for the development of clot-busting drugs and the use of aspirin during heart attacks this combined treatment has again saved thousands of lives.

1980s: Statins

Research, part funded by BHF  discovers that statins lowers the risk of heart attacks in patients who have high blood cholesterol but do not show signs of heart disease – a major breakthrough.

1990s: Stents and defibrillators

Stents were developed to hold open arteries and are much more effective than previous procedures. BHF also started to make life saving portable defibrillators available and have now funded over 10,000 across the UK in community and sports centres, hospitals and health centres.

2000s: Genetic research

Current funding is helping provide a better understanding of variations of common genes that may make one person more likely to get heart conditions than another. The hope is to target these people to prevent the onset of heart conditions. Future generations will benefit enormously when this research is fully developed.

2010s: Regenerative medicine

Unlocking the secrets of the zebra fish may give vital clues of how to mend human hearts. These tiny tropical fish have the amazing property of being able to regenerate tissue and organs – this research could well lead to major developments in heart treatment in future years.

If you have lived a good healthy life and start to face the inevitability of life ending many of us think about how we can do something to help future generation. Very often this focussed on the future well being of our children, grandchildren and friends.  Our funded research will undoubtedly help them some time as well as many other thousands of patients in the years to come.

Celebrate your life by helping others

Legacy gifts come from ordinary people, and they are crucial to funding life saving research. It's so easy to leave a gift in your Will. By remembering the BHF in your Will with a share of what remains, after family and friends have been looked after, you can help create the next medical advances. What better way to thank the people and causes that have had an impact on your life, than to make a contribution through a gift in your Will?

 

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