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Heart diseases

We fund research into heart diseases and have done so for more than fifty years. The progress we've made has helped save millions of lives, but there's more work to do. 

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Jack's story

Within hours of Jack being born, his mum, Sam, noticed that he was starting to go blue. Doctors found that his oxygen levels were very low and he was rushed to intensive care. He was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries, in which the two main blood vessels taking blood away from the heart are the wrong way round.

At just six days old Jack underwent a six hour open-heart operation known as the ‘arterial switch’ to save his life. It went well and Jack, now nicknamed ‘Rocky’ by his mum and dad because of his rocky start in life, started to recover. 

Now, Jack is a happy and lively eight year old, who loves running around and playing football. Dad Nick says: “He is just a miracle in our lives.”Jack’s experience shows the importance of our work and why we must keep funding research into heart and circulatory diseases.

Heart diseases

Congenital heart disease is just one type of the many heart problems we tackle. BHF Professor Magdi Yacoub first developed the ‘arterial switch’ procedure to correct abnormally connected blood vessels in babies in 1975. And since 1985, the ‘switch’ procedure has helped save numerous newborn babies’ lives.

Before the BHF existed, the majority of babies born in the UK with a heart defect did not survive to their first birthday. Today, thanks to research, around eight out of ten survive to adulthood. But the job isn’t done. We’re working hard to improve the quality of life of children living with congenital heart conditions who require ongoing operations throughout their lives. 

Our work doesn’t stop there. There are many different types of conditions that can affect the heart such as heart failure, heart attacks, inherited heart conditions and heart rhythm problems and the research we have funded has helped to improve treatments for many of them.

Our research to help children with congenital heart disease

BHF Professor Massimo Caputo and his team at the University of Bristol are trying to find ways to prevent the hearts of babies and young children becoming damaged during heart surgery. Commonly replacement valves may be needed to help repair congenital defects but the problem with this, is that the replacement don’t grow with the child’s heart. Professor Caputo and his team are currently finding out if they can develop tissue valves, which do have the potential to grow. This could potentially spare children with congenital defects repeated operations and allow them to focus on growing up happy and healthy.  Learn more about congenital heart conditions.

Donate to our research today

From heart diseases and stroke to vascular dementia, we raise money to fund research into all heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors. Every breakthrough we’ve made has been funded by people like you. So please donate today. It could help save someone you love in the future.

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