Kick-starting the best cardiovascular care
Before the NHS can make new treatments available to patients, it has to be sure that they are more beneficial than current treatments, and are affordable to deliver. However, demonstrating this can take time and requires funding which isn’t always available.
This is where the BHF can help. We fund pilot studies to demonstrate the value of a new treatment in a clinical setting, in order to provide the NHS with evidence that it is effective and cost-efficient.
For example, when our researchers discovered a genetic test for the deadly high-cholesterol condition, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), we invested £1.5 million to trial its use in the NHS, which tested and diagnosed thousands of people with FH, getting them onto the correct treatments and proved it to be clinically and cost-effective. Due to the success of the pilot, genetic testing for FH has now been established as a core NHS service in most of Wales, and the BHF is making the case for the national rollout of the service.
But this is just one example of where we’re putting our research into practice. From improving treatment for heart failure to earlier detection of high blood pressure, your donations have enabled patients to benefit from the best possible care in the shortest possible time.
Improving specialist knowledge to support people and communities
Research shows that heart patients do best when they are cared for by nurses with expertise in their particular condition. However, there is a shortage of specialist nurses within the NHS.
For the last three decades, the BHF has helped to fill this gap by funding specialist roles such as Heart Failure Nurses, Arrhythmia Care Coordinators and Cardiac Genetic Nurses. More than one million people have been supported by BHF healthcare professionals since 2004, helping to save the NHS millions of pounds.
But we’ve also been instrumental in supporting the professional development of healthcare professionals we don’t fund. In 2014, we set-up the BHF Alliance – a community of close to 4000 healthcare and public health professionals committed to providing the highest standards of evidence-based care and support to people living with heart disease.
Supporting patients and their families
Being diagnosed with a heart condition can be a huge shock, and inevitably leads to questions about what it means for your future.
Each year we give five million free booklets to patients and their families, covering nearly all heart conditions and their treatments. These resources are also invaluable for the doctors and nurses tasked with breaking often devastating news. In addition to this, we get an average of 360,000 resource downloads per year to support patients and families.
However, in 2000 we realised heart patients needed more support, and launched the BHF’s Heart Helpline. Today our team of specialist Helpline nurses responds to 23,000 enquires a year.
Our Heart Matters magazine, sent to around 400,000 addresses across the UK, and online visits of over 150,000 per month is also an invaluable way for heart patients to learn about the latest research breakthroughs and get advice on improving their lifestyle.
Browse some statistics on the scale of heart and circulatory disease