Making a difference for over 50 years

For more than 50 years, our research has saved lives.

We’ve broken new ground, revolutionised treatments and transformed care.

Fifty years ago we knew little about heart disease. We didn’t understand the causes of a heart attack, and the best treatment doctors could offer was bed rest. The newly-founded British Heart Foundation was part of an effort to transform this picture.

A bold vision to beat heart disease

In 1961, faced with a national epidemic, when heart and circulatory disease caused more than half of all deaths in the UK, concerned doctors joined forces with philanthropists to establish the BHF.

Some of the best scientific minds in the country began to dedicate their careers to tackling heart disease. In the following decades, thousands of researchers and medical professionals, funded by the BHF, have taken on the big issues leading to: 

  • Discovery of the causes of heart attack
  • Establishment of UK’s first coronary care units
  • Development of new surgical techniques, including transplantation
  • Identification of the genes behind deadly inherited heart conditions
  • Vastly improved diagnosis and treatments
  • Dedicated resources and support for people living with heart disease

Turning the tide against heart disease

Our work has had a significant impact. Now, seven in ten heart attack victims leave hospital and go home to their families. The number of deaths from heart and circulatory disease has fallen by more than half and today 4 in 5 children born with congenital heart disease survive into adulthood


But there are still seven million people in the UK living with cardiovascular disease today. Too many people die too young. That’s why we are still dedicated to working with our supporters and our scientists, harnessing the power of medical research to lead the fight against heart disease. We can only do this with your continued help.

Help fund more Lifesaving research

browse Timelines of research into heart attacks and inherited conditions