Reducing unexpected deaths
Every week three young people die unexpectedly from rare
heart conditions they didn’t know they had. This is called
Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).
The rhythm of the heart beat is controlled by natural electrical
currents in our heart cells. Disruption of this electrical current
can cause a disturbance to the heart beat that can lead to
Our ground-breaking research into SADS
Our scientists have been investigating the electrical and
structural problems that lead to SADS, so that we can get better at
identifying people at risk and provide treatments to prevent these
Professor Bill McKenna and his team were
supported by your donations to identify genetic clues
that might explain how this condition occurs.
A state of the art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine we
provided helped the team learn more about how these genes might
work to control heart function.
Predicting SADS risk
With help from our research funding, researchers at
Papworth Hospital have developed a way to predict SADS risk by
measuring electrical ‘disorganisation’ in the heart.
By identifying this type of electrical disturbance, the
researchers hope to prevent SADS in people suffering from a range
of different heart diseases.
In the 1990s research by BHF Professor John Camm demonstrated the benefits of a
device called an internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for
patients at high risk of ventricular fibrillation.
He pioneered the use of these devices for people at risk of
SADS. Patients at high risk can be fitted with an internal
cardioverter defibrillator, which helps prevent SADS by giving the
heart a kick-start when its rhythm is disrupted.
The future for SADS research
We fund a great many research projects looking at the genes and
proteins that control the spread of electrical currents across the
It is thought that disruptions in this control might hold the
key to understanding heart rhythm disturbances that cause SADS.
Support heart research
We need your donations to help us
fund more cutting-edge heart research.