A euro vision

9 September 2015        

Logo of the European Society of Cardiology. Last week cardiovascular researchers from around the world gathered in London for the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress. Ben Kolb from our Research Communications team shares some of the highlights relating to our research.

Once again we flew the flag for UK research into heart and circulatory disease at the world's biggest conference on the condition – the ESC Congress. With cardiovascular disease still Europe's biggest killer it was hugely reassuring to hear of the progress being made possible by your support. Here are some of the highlights.

The path of least resistance

Having high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) puts you at much greater risk of heart disease or having a stroke. Roughly one in three people have high blood pressure. Treatments to lower blood pressure are widely used and help to save lives but in 10 to 20 per cent of people those treatments do not work. These people have what is known as resistant hypertension and it is thought to affect 100 million people around the world.

A lady having her blood pressure takenAt the ESC, the results of a clinical trial we funded called PATHWAY-2 showed that there is a treatment to lower these people's blood pressure and, importantly, it's cheap and already approved. Spironolactone was first used in the 1950s as a diuretic and in this study it was found to control blood pressure in 60 per cent of people who were resistant to standard treatments. This important finding is likely to change the guidance on treating high blood pressure around the world.

Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: "As these drugs are already used in clinical practice they should quickly be taken up and used to better manage patients with high blood pressure, who appeared resistant to standard medications."

Find out more about research into treating high blood pressure in Heart Matters.

Quest for the Holy Grail

Dr Marc Dweck - BHF Researcher

Although a cardiologist can tell whether someone's at risk of a heart attack by looking at the health of the arteries supplying blood to the heart, they can't tell exactly where the heart attack will occur. Coming up with a way to do this would vastly improve heart disease diagnosis – it is considered the 'Holy Grail of cardiology'.

Dr Marc Dweck, a BHF Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, is on a quest to discover this Holy Grail and he's making exciting progress using high tech imaging equipment and cutting-edge science. At the congress he spoke about the research, which we're funding.

Watch our video about Dr Dweck's research into predicting heart attacks.

A breath of fresh air

Air pollution on motorwayAs part of the European Heart Network we're calling on EU policymakers to take action on air pollution by launching a petition at the ESC Congress. Research we funded has clearly shown the links between dirty air and a number of heart and circulatory conditions including heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

BHF Professor David Newby, who led much of this research at the University of Edinburgh and also treats heart patients in the city, said: "Cardiologists have an important role to play in both educating their patients and lobbying policymakers to introduce changes. There just isn't enough public awareness of the substantial impact that air pollution is having on cardiovascular disease."

Sign the petition and help prevent the many heart problems caused by air pollution.

Going for gold

The ESC holds sessions where young researchers from around the world submit their work and then present it to a panel of expert judges. Two researchers we fund won one of these prestigious Young Investigator Awards.

Dr Chloe Park from University College London won an award for her research looking at the relationship between heart health and brain health. Dr Marios Margaritis from the University of Oxford won one of the awards for his work to see if we can better predict how people do after heart attack treatment.

Professor Keith Fox

Finally retired BHF Professor Keith Fox was awarded the highest honour at the Congress – the ESC Gold Medal. This was given in recognition of his extraordinary achievements and contribution to cardiovascular medicine and research.

With our support, thanks to your donations, Professor Fox carried out a number of pioneering studies which helped change guidelines for diagnosing and treating heart attacks around the world. Those changes have saved countless lives.

Speaking at the Congress Professor Fox thanked the British Heart Foundation for underpinning almost all of his research. As our supporters you should feel tremendously proud of what you have helped make possible.

Help us keep funding life saving breakthroughs by supporting our fight for every heartbeat.DONATE