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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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What are heart diseases?

Heart diseases are a range of conditions, such as heart failure, heart rhythm problems and congenital heart defects, that can stop your heart from pumping blood properly. There are many different types of conditions that can affect the heart, and our research has helped to improve treatments for many of them.

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.

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.

Jack's story

Within hours of Jack being born, his mum noticed that something wasn’t right. He was pale. Jack's oxygen levels were checked and were very low. He was rushed to intensive care where doctors diagnosed Transposition of the Great Arteries. This is a heart condition where the two main blood vessels taking blood away from the heart are the wrong way round.

At just six days old, with his parents waiting anxiously, Jack had a six hour open-heart operation known as the “Arterial Switch”. Fortunately the operation went well and Jack started to make his recovery. After just ten days he was able to go home for his first Christmas.

Now, Jack is a happy and lively eight year old, who loves running around and playing football.

Jack’s experience shows the importance of our work and why we must keep funding research into heart and circulatory diseases.

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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