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Success stories thanks to gifts in Wills

Posted on: 12 April 2018 by 50connect Promotions

Gifts in Wills enable British Heart Foundation to fund research that is saving lives. Here are a handful of these research achievements.

BHF research lab

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has been dedicated to leading the fight against heart disease for more than 50 years. During that time research funded by BHF has played a pivotal role in changing the way most heart conditions are viewed and treated. Here are just some of their successes.

1960s The development of the heart-lung bypass machine leads to the widespread use of open-heart surgery, the first heart transplants take place and implantable pacemakers transform lives. Without these breakthroughs, many people would not be alive today

Pioneering techniques

From scans that look right inside the heart, to procedures like angioplasty, these pioneering techniques supported by BHF are now routine in hospitals.

1970s BHF-funded research into blood clots causing heart attacks paves the way for the development of clot-busting drugs, and the use of aspirin to treat a heart attack. This combined treatment has saved thousands of lives.

Children and heart conditions

The number of children who survive being born with a heart defect has turned around - in 1961 the majority of babies born in the UK with a heart defect did not survive to their first birthday. The number of children dying has fallen in the last three decades and now today thanks to research 80 percent survive to adulthood.

Exploring genetics

We're getting to the bottom of the genetics of potentially dangerous inherited heart conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

1980s Research part funded by the BHF finds that statins can lower the risk of heart attacks in those without heart disease but have high cholesterol.

Controlling cholesterol

We've found that high cholesterol can run in families and  the development of statins means these  people reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke to the same level as someone with normal cholesterol.

Family fortunes

Huge scientific studies have proved that heart disease can run in families. Read more about the family history of heart disease  and what you can do to help your family if it does.

Extending life

Our research has helped develop medicines that help extend life for heart failure patients, and with the money we raised through our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal we have funded research that will help us rebuild hearts.

1990s The BHF starts funding life-saving defibrillators, and since then has placed over 10,000 across the UK.

Safety in numbers

Heart surgery is now much safer. In the 1970s BHF and Wellcome Trust funded a team from St Thomas’ Hospital, London, to develop a way to protect the heart when it loses the blood supply.

The team developed the 'St Thomas' Hospital cardioplegic solution' - a liquid mixture that can preserve and protect the heart, giving surgeons more time to operate safely, lead to innovative transplant techniques and today is working on ways to make recovery quicker and easier.

Reducing the burden

Our scientists helped transform pacemakers from a heavy bulky device into one that could fit inside the chest, with no exposed wires. And we're still working on improvements - as well as research that could mean less people need to be fitted with a pacemaker at all.

2000s The BHF funds research to provide a better understanding of variations of the more common genes that may make one person more likely to get some heart conditions than another. The hope is to be able to try to help these people earlier and to reduce their risk. 

Saving from sudden death

When a person is suddenly struck down, seemingly in their prime, it can be very difficult to deal with. Our research into Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome has helped pioneer technology like ICD implants, which can help restore the  heart rhythm that precedes this syndrome.

Funding future research breakthroughs

For all our success, there's a lot more still to be done. Coronary heart disease is still one of the UK's biggest killers And  over half a million people in the UK are living with heart failure.

Surgery techniques can still be improved. There are  babies still struggling with a congenital heart defect. And there are exciting developments in genetics and stem cell technology yet to be found, which could revolutionise the treatment of many heart conditions.

2010s Scientists researching regenerative medicine believe they can unlock the secrets of the zebrafish to give vital clues of how to mend human hearts.

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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