Professor Keith Fox
BHF Duke of Edinburgh Chair of Cardiology
University of Edinburgh - a BHF Centre of
Professor Fox’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which
coronary heart disease develops. He is investigating the ways we
can monitor the development of disease in the lab and the clinic.
And he's looking to establish new life-saving treatments.
Read more about this research and watch a video of Professor Fox
and heart patient Elizabeth Scarr, whose experiences helped to
change doctors' guidelines.
Interrupting disease progress
Professor Fox's Edinburgh team
is examining patients with coronary heart
disease, to show how we can interrupt the build-up of fatty
plaques and reduce the risk of heart
attack and heart failure.
Fox's team is investigating the impact of genetic and
environmental factors on the early steps that lead to the build-up
of fatty deposits in blood vessel walls. These fatty deposits
are also known as atheroma. They contain a mixture materials,
including immune cells and deposits of fats including
The Edinburgh researchers are
looking at the influence of genes, the environment and the body's
own immune system on the build-up of fatty plaques. They are also
examining the biological processes leading to blood clotting. These
factors all contribute to defects in the cells lining the artery
wall, also known as the endothelium.
The Edinburgh group has unravelled
the components of atheroma using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
optical imaging techniques and high resolution ultrasound.
Current studies take this knowledge
into real-life situations to reveal the health and make-up of blood
vessels in patients with coronary heart disease. This work has the
potential to identify patients at risk and improve treatments.
Professor Fox hopes these techniques
will also benefit the care of patients with other heart and
skeletal muscle conditions, including heart failure.
Threatened heart attack
Professor Fox is an international expert in
acute coronary syndromes, which occur in people due to narrowed
coronary arteries causing chest pain. They are sometimes described
as ‘threatened heart attacks’.
Fox’s team has led major studies to reveal the
best way to treat acute coronary syndromes. The syndromes often
indicate that a full-blown heart attack is just around the corner,
so it is crucial to get treatment right and protect people from a
The work from Edinburgh has already changed
national and international guidelines for best practice. Professor
Fox continues to research the biology underlying acute coronary
syndromes, and tackle the risks and benefits of potential new
therapies to prevent the build up of dangerous blood clots in
Cardiac specific gene targeting
Fox's team is also exploring the key
genes involved in blood pressure regulation and the development of
hardening of the arteries. This enables us to understand the
mechanisms for the development of evidence based therapies.