British Heart Foundation

Charitable funding and support has been a vital component of the fight against heart disease and there can be no better example than the British Heart Foundation. Set up in 1961 by a group of medical professionals who wanted to fund extra research into prevention, diagnosis and treatment, the work of the BHF over nearly six decades has helped to transform the landscape of heart disease. A few examples of the impact of their research are listed below. Their vision is a world in which people do not die prematurely from any form of heart or circulatory disease and their goals are to to increase the rate of early diagnosis and effective treatment of all types of heart disease and to support patients and their carers in the management of their condition.


Changing the way heart attacks are treated
BHF have been involved in some of the biggest advances in heart attack treatment and care, from setting up the first ever coronary care unit to the discovery of clot-busting drugs and the effectiveness of statins at preventing heart attacks

Transplant technology
Their pioneering research with Professors Sir Magdi Yacoub and Sir Terence English in the 1980s played a big part in making the heart transplant a surgical success story.

Survival for children
In 1961, only 20 per cent lived to their first birthday but the number of children dying has fallen by more than 80 per cent in the last three decades. BHF funded researchers have pioneered techniques to improve detection of abnormalities,  developed surgical techniques (such as The ‘switch’ procedure) and established the new cardiology speciality of adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD).

Exploring genetics
BHF have funded work that has led the way in finding some of the first genetic mutations that cause common cardiomyopathies, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

The development of pacemakers
BHF scientists helped transform pacemakers from a heavy bulky device into one that could fit inside the chest, with no exposed wires. While this revolutionised management of patients with heart rhythm disorders, ongoing research could mean less people need to be fitted with a pacemaker at all.

Saving from sudden death
When people are suddenly struck down, seemingly in their prime, it can be very difficult to deal with. BHF research into Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome has helped pioneer technology like ICD implants, which can help restore the irregular heartbeat that often precedes this syndrome.

The BHF fund a lot more than research; for more information, please visit the BHF website