Research

10 surprising secrets to beating heart disease

Over the years we’ve developed a whole host of pioneering and innovative secrets to give us the edge in our fight against heart disease. Take a look at some of the most surprising methods we’re using to win this battle once and for all.

1. Meet Dr Rana - One of our rock star researchers 

Dr Amer Rana 

Dr Amer Rana (pictured) is taking centre stage in BHF-funded research into the role of stem cells in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension – a chronic and debilitating cardiovascular condition that affects the blood vessels in the lungs. This can lead to breathlessness, fatigue and heart failure, not to mention a lifetime of intensive treatment.

2. Taking cures from bugs to drugs

A tick under a microscope

Depending on the species, tick saliva contains around 1,500 to 3,000 proteins. Some of these contain anti-inflammatory properties that could be used to treat myocarditis – the potentially fatal inflammation of the heart muscle. Researchers are hoping to use yeast cells to mine these proteins to create an array of life-saving medicines.

3. The dynamite anti-stroke patch

The key to successfully treating a stroke is speed. And an experimental patch containing glyceryl trinitrate – one of the main components of dynamite – could dramatically improve treatment times. By applying the patch on the way to hospital, paramedics will be able to start lowering the patient’s blood pressure right away.

  • Watch the video above to hear stroke survivors Mark and Paul discuss life after stroke.

4. Zebrafish: The future of self-healing hearts?

3D image of the zebrafish heart

If part of their heart is damaged, zebrafish can repair it in a matter of weeks. BHF scientists are trying to discover their secrets by studying how their hearts and blood vessels grow in the early stages of their lifecycle – while their body is still transparent.

5. Getting the full picture with 3D microscopes

3D microscope

Our biologists are so fascinated by the potential of the zebrafish’s self-regenerating hearts that they’ve even developed a cutting-edge 3D microscope to help build three-dimensional models to better understand how they work.

6. An eye for inherited heart conditions

Mona Lisa

Thanks to comprehensive research into inherited heart conditions, doctors can now recognise the warning signs earlier than ever before. By looking for common clues, like a pale ring around the iris, scientists were even able to deduce that Mona Lisa may have had the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolaemia.

7. Creating a limitless bank of clean blood

Stem cell research

Advances in stem cell research are seeing scientists generating red blood cells. This means that we could potentially soon have access to a limitless supply of clean blood for transfusions. This could dramatically help those who lose blood through surgery or injury.

8. Patching up broken hearts - literally

Researchers are working hard with cardiac surgeons to find the most effective ways of attaching bacteria-based polymer patches onto areas of damaged heart muscle. Once there, the patch will repair any damage by growing new healthy heart cells.

9. The next generation of stents

Stenting (angioplasty) involves the widening of narrowed coronary arteries by inserting a small mesh tube to reduce the symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD). Our next generation of stents emit carbon monoxide-releasing molecules to lessen the chance of the artery re-closing with scar tissue.

10. And of course...supporters like you

BHF supporters at the London to Brighton bike ride

Perhaps our biggest secret to winning the fight against heart disease is the outstanding support we get from people like you. Together, we can make heart conditions history.

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