The Duchess of York was today announced as an official British Heart Foundation (BHF) Ambassador, marking the occasion by spending the morning at The William Harvey Heart Centre, Queen Mary University of London, where the BHF funds life saving heart research.
The Duchess, who is particularly passionate about women and heart disease, spoke with BHF Research Fellow Dr Suchita Nadkarni about research she is doing into pre-eclampsia, the leading cause of death worldwide for women during pregnancy. She also met BHF Professor Federica Marelli-Berg about her research into the role of the immune system in pre-eclampsia and heart transplant rejection. This research is of particular interest to the Duchess, whose mother was previously diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
It is estimated that globally around 76,000 pregnant women die each year from pre-eclampsia and related hypertensive disorders. It is hoped that Dr Suchita’s research will prevent diseases like this from progressing and devastating families worldwide.
Whilst at Queen Mary, the Duchess of York met various women who are fighting a daily battle with heart disease. These women included Bina Ghelani and her baby Aarya. Bina was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia when she was 32 weeks pregnant with Aarya. The Duchess of York spoke openly with the women about her own concerns around heart disease which tragically took the lives of close family friends Sir David Frost and Miles Frost.
The Duchess of York said: “It’s an honour to support the work of the British Heart Foundation. I have had the privilege to speak to the BHF researchers today - Professor Federica Marelli-Berg and Dr Suchita Nadkarni - and hear about their extraordinary work as well as meeting inspirational women who have overcome great hurdles.
“I am determined to do all I can to help highlight the devastating effects of heart disease, particularly amongst women, where heart disease kills twice as many as breast cancer. This is a shocking statistic and it's vital we encourage others to support the BHF so they can continue their crucial research into this devastating condition.”
Bina added: “It was a pleasure meeting the Duchess of York today. It’s fantastic she feels so passionately about raising awareness of women and heart disease.
“Being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia when 32 weeks pregnant was absolutely devastating. I feel incredibly lucky that Aarya and I made a full recovery. I really hope the Duchess’ support will raise awareness of the devastation heart disease brings so other families are as lucky as we are.”
Bag It Beat It to support women with heart disease
Whilst at Queen Mary, the Duchess also showed her support for BHF’s latest campaign Bag It Beat It, a stock donation campaign running throughout September, by donating a bag of unwanted items.
The BHF's chain of more than 700 high street charity shops UK wide sell a fantastic range of donated and new items raising vital funds to help fight heart disease.
Find out more about Bag It Beat It