Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A Tale of Two University Cities

The fifth annual Oxford to Cambridge Hearts First Bike Ride took place on Sunday and saw approximately 950 cycling heroes tackling the 89 mile route in aid of the BHF.

Starting in the centre of Oxford, the popular bike ride then headed off through Oxfordshire and into Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, taking in some truly breathtaking scenery along the way. Riders finished in the heart of Cambridge on Midsummer Common.

Last year’s cyclists raised £134,000 of life saving funds. Event Manager Melanie Blackman is hoping sponsors will be just as generous this year.

Two top fundraiser prizes of a night in the Oxford Belfry and the Cambridge Belfry hotels with breakfast, courtesy of QHotels, are up for grabs to those sending in their sponsorship before 5th December.

Melanie said: "It was a fantastically well supported event. The fog at the start of the ride did add a little extra challenge but the sun soon shone through offering riders views of the spectacular countryside around them."

At the finish, riders were awarded a commemorative medal, free BHF t-shirt and relaxing massage. The RJ Ride Guide stunt team showed just how much control you can have over a bike with a breathtaking display of bravery. And for those ready to kick back and relax in the sunshine, delicious crepes, jacket potatoes, ice cream and a bar offered welcome refreshment.

Fancy cycling for the BHF? Find out more about our Hearts First Bike Ride events

Monday, 29 September 2008

Will new shock images stop smokers?

This week, graphic pictures will appear on cigarette packets in the UK warning about the dangers of smoking.

The UK is the first European country to introduce such images, which will include pictures of a tumour, heart surgery and a diseased lung.

The BHF doesn’t steer shy of using shock tactics to get our message across. Our recent chest pains awareness campaign includes violent scenes depicting the symptoms of a heart attack.

Maura Gillespie, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the BHF, said: “We believe the graphic picture warnings on cigarette packets will provide a further incentive for smokers to think again before reaching for their cigarette packets.

“There is evidence that they can help more smokers quit and prevent others from starting in the first place. Our ‘fatty cigarette’ campaign clearly demonstrated the value of hard hitting imagery.”

If you want to give up smoking, help and information is available at http://www.bhf.org.uk/smoking

What you think about using graphic images to encourage people to quit smoking? Post a comment on the blog.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Heart of the matter - our annual report

Meet Pat McKenna - a heart attack survivor from Scotland who attributes her survival to cardiac rehabilitation.

Pat was a non-smoker and a hillwalker with normal blood pressure and cholesterol but in 1999 she had a heart attack.

After having a double bypass operation she began walking on the hills again with the support of a cardiac rehab team.

She now mentors others and supports our campaign for high quality cardiac rehab treatment.

Pat's inspirational story is one of dozens in our 2008 Annual Report.

The report tells you what we've been up to during the year, including the latest on our life saving research, details on how we raise our money, our successful health education campaigns and infomation on the work of our BHF nurses.

Dive into our interactive Annual Report website at bhf.org.uk/report08 to find out more.

Let us know what you think by posting a comment on the blog.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Mogwai Martin's pacemaker pain

Our best wishes go out to Martin McCulloch (pictured right), the drummer with Scottish rock favourites Mogwai.

Martin, who is well known to the BHF after auctioning two of his old pacemakers to raise money for us, has been forced to leave the band's US tour early after having problems with his new one.

Mogwai have been forced to cut the tour short as Martin flies back from New York, where the band had been performing, to his home in Scotland to see his cardiologist and have an immediate check-up.

The auctions of his previous pacemakers to the band's fans via eBay have raised hundreds of pounds to help our lifesaving work.

On Mogwai's website, Martin says: "I was taken into hospital last night almost immediately after the show. I've been having some problems with my pacemaker for the duration of the tour and it unfortunately culminated in me being sent to the emergency room.

"The doctors there initially thought i would have to have corrective surgery at a larger hospital nearer New York City, but i have been given the all clear to travel home on the understanding that i go straight to my cardiologist on arrival back in Scotland.

"To be honest, i'm really bummed about having to go home and feel for the folk who had bought tickets for our upcoming shows.

"But i can honestly say it would be almost impossible for me to carry on at this point as my pacemaker has broken skin and the surrounding area has become infected."

Good luck Martin, and we hope you get better soon!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Date announced for 2009 BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride

We thought you'd like to know that we've just announced the date for our 2009 BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride. It's Sunday 21 June.

We'll be publishing further details of how to register to enter the Ride - which is the largest charity cycle event of its kind in Europe - from mid-December this year.

The 54-mile event is our biggest fundraising event, raising over £3.9m in 2007. This year we're hoping the Ride will raise even more to help continue our lifesaving work.

Cyclists really took the event to heart this year, with all places selling out weeks beforehand. And since we became involved in 1980, over £42 million has been raised for us.

You can see photos from this year's Ride and also read comments from those who part. There are also TV news reports of the event on our BHF YouTube Channel

Did you take part in the Ride this year? Would you recommend it to others interested in taking part? Are you already looking forward to it? Let us know by posting your comments below!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Surf's up for the BHF

News reaches us of an awesome challenge being undertaken to raise money for the BHF.

Three windsurfing brothers, Simon, James and Tim Cox are aiming to windsurf round the Isle of Wight and raise £3,000.

The brothers will surf their way over 160 nautical miles, braving the notorious Solent currents.

You can find out more about the Big Salty Challenge and how donate to Simon, James and Tim's Justgiving sponsorship page on their website Big Salty Challenge.

Good luck lads!

If you want to organise a fundraising event for the BHF, find out how on the Do Your Own Thing page on our website.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Got a story to tell? ....

....then we want to hear from you!

Whether you have experienced a heart condition yourself, or been affected by the experiences of a close friend or family member, your story could help change and save lives.

At the moment we're keen to hear from women, men under 50 and young people all of South Asian or African origin with experience of heart disease.

To share your story, you can complete an online form on our main website or email yourstory@bhf.org.uk for more info.

Friday, 19 September 2008

The day Elie's heart stopped

Elie Levy (pictured right) says he literally owes his life to a British Heart Foundation campaign on how to spot heart attack symptoms.

Elie experienced only mild symptoms, and initially he wasn't worried. Little did he know that within minutes his heart would stop while he was in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

Luckily, Elie's wife Karen had realised the seriousness of what could be happening to her husband, and knew that she had to call 999 immediately.

Elie's story is a stark reminder of why you should never delay if you experience any of the symptoms, and he recounts it in an excellent interview on the New You web TV channel.
You can also brush up on the symptoms on our special heart attack campaign website.

Have you had experience of a heart attack? Tell us your story by posting a comment below.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

How to take control of your diabetes ‘destiny’

According to a new BHF study, women at high risk of diabetes can reduce their body’s insensitivity to insulin – which affects blood sugar control – by exercising.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease.

People with a family history of diabetes are predisposed to the condition and tend to have greater ‘resistance’ to insulin.

However, after just seven weeks of an exercise programme, insulin resistance had reduced by nearly a quarter in women whose family history put them at a high risk of type 2 diabetes.

Rose Traynor from Glasgow, a social worker with South Lanarkshire Council, took part in the study. Her mother has diabetes. Her father, now deceased, was also diabetic.

Rose says: "Before taking part in the study I wasn’t aware of the effect exercise had on my likelihood of getting diabetes and it wasn’t something that I had really given much thought to.

"I now realise that I can be proactive in minimising the risk of this simply by increasing the amount of exercise I do. The exercise regime really gave me the kick start I needed to get exercising properly. It has now become just a part of everyday life for me."

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the BHF, commented: "I hope the findings will encourage people to get active for their health."

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Our film about tackling high cholesterol

Cholesterol is one of the most searched for and asked after topics on the BHF website and our Heart HelpLine - 08450 80 70 80.

Understanding what causes high cholesterol, and what steps you can take to lower it, can help protect you against heart disease.

One of our latest DVDs, Risking It, features a video all about how to tackle a high cholesterol level if you have been identified as having one by your GP.

We believe it should really help, so we've made it available for you to watch below...

This video is just one of more than 50 featured on our BHF YouTube channel, which includes videos covering all major heart health issues and our work.

If you'd like to comment on this video please feel free to leave a post below. We'd love to hear from you...

Friday, 12 September 2008

Why not become a Fan of the BHF?

Have you checked in to our BHF Facebook page (pictured right) yet?
We're beginning to build up a bit of a head of steam, about to pass 700 fans and with a relatively lively 42 posts on The Wall.

It's great to see and read so many posts from people with a positive experience of the BHF and the vital, pioneering and caring work we carry out.
In one of the latest posts, Joan Kelly from Leeds writes: "It happened to me! In 2002 nothing to indicate anything was wrong, I was 47.....Bang..it hit me...At first i thought i was having some sort of panic attacks, How wrong was i . Keep up your fantastic work BHF...your priceless."

That work would simply not be possible without the enthusiastic support of our thousands of fundraisers who take part in our events, join other events to fundraise for us, or simply organise their own.

Some have posted on The Wall, and it's great to see what they're up to.

So why not join this growing group by becoming a Fan of the BHF and posting your message on The Wall. We look forward to seeing you over there!

Alternatively, you can also post your comments and messages in response to this post below...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Calling all James Bond fans!

For one night only, we’ve got a licence to thrill, delight and revel in all things 007!

2008 celebrates the centenary of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, who died from heart attack in 1964. He was just 56.

As a grand finale to the centenary year, a glamorous, star-studded gala night is being held in aid of the BHF. The event takes place at 7.30pm, Sunday 5th October, at the London Palladium.

Hosted by Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry, the evening features stars from the worlds of film and theatre, as well some of the biggest names in music performing their favourite Bond themes.

A sneak preview clip from the new James Bond film, A Quantum of Solace, along with other special surprises will ensure that it is an evening not to be missed!

Check out our website for full details of the event.

Buy tickets online from See Tickets or by calling 0844 4124657.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Blogging from the heart

We love the BHF blog, but for many people, blogging is an important way to help them cope with serious illnesses.

An article in the Guardian today suggests that for many sufferers, writing down the experience of an illness is as important as drugs or surgery to the healing process.

Louise Snape, aged 30 from Manchester, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart disease, after giving birth to twin girls who had the condition. Louise says: Writing my blog keeps me sane. I think that without it I’d go mad. I can’t get out much because I’m not strong enough. I can’t even take the girls to the park. Doing this gives me something to focus on.”

As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Sharing experiences online is no substitute for medicine, but there’s the feelgood factor of possibly helping someone with a similar condition. Blogging also provides a means for other people to express their support.

The Snape twins, Katie and Lauren, are now three years old. Katie has had a heart transplant. Louise and Lauren are being assessed.

Louise continues: “We do get lots of feedback from around all over the world. People who read my blog really care about me and the girls. I can’t put into words what a difference that makes to my life.”

Monday, 8 September 2008

Heart patient Peter's got the X Factor

Congratulations are in order for Peter Lee, who was featured in the ITV show The X Factor at the weekend wearing a lovely bright red British Heart Foundation Heart Runners t-shirt.

Heart patient and BHF fan Peter, 81, was filmed during auditions for the show singing a version of Gene Kelly's Singing In The Rain while playing the spoons. Despite obviously impressing show judge Simon Cowell, he narrowly missed making it thorugh to the final rounds.

Next stop for Peter is helping to promote our new Cardiac Rehab Campaign, launching on 15 September, telling his story as someone who has seen the benefits of receiving rehabilitation after surgery for a heart condition.

If you missed Peter's performance on the X Factor don't fear, you can check it out now below...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

No evidence to link cholesterol-lowering drugs with cancer

Several major national newspapers today reported claims by some doctors that the drug Inegy used to treat high cholesterol could also cause cancer.

In response, we today issued a statement reporting new data from scientists in Oxford, which showed no evidence for a link between cholesterol-lowering medication and an increased risk of cancer.

Dr Mike Knapton, our Director of Prevention and Care, says: "There is no suggestion that statins increase the risk of cancer.

“The combined evidence of all data on cancer and ezetimibe in combination with a statin shows no increased risk of developing cancer.

“The data from the big trials are encouraging but the evidence is not yet conclusive, because many of the patients studied have been followed-up for a relatively short period of time so far.

“Because one study did show a cancer risk, it is crucial that others continue and are monitored closely to definitively confirm or refute any link.

"People should be reassured that drug regulators will act quickly if robust evidence of risk to patient health appears.

“If you have been prescribed ezetimibe you should continue to take it. If you have concerns about side effects of this or other medication, you should talk to your doctor to weigh up the risks and benefits."

If you have any questions about this issue you can contact our Heart HelpLine either by email here - or on 08450 70 80 70 (lines open 9pm-5pm Monday to Friday).

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Brighton swimmers plunge in to help fight heart disease

The sun was shining all day in Brighton as over 260 people braved the sea to raise money for the BHF and help them fight the UK’s single biggest killer, heart disease.

It was the second year of the BHF’s Brighton Sea Swim and it was certainly successful. The weather was beautiful and the sea looked fairly calm. However, the swimmers faced a challenging one mile swim, as easterly winds and a strong current made it hard work.

It was a great fun day out; but for others it meant a bit more. To Danielle Lade, aged 23, and her family, the BHF is close to their hearts.

Danielle’s grandfather, Chris Lade, who came from Brighton, sadly passed away last year. He’d had a triple heart bypass in 1998 and had become very poorly in recent years. He was a keen swimmer and swam at Hove beach every morning come rain or shine. The family swam in a group of four named 'Grandad Lade’s Happy Days Team', in his memory.

Danielle said: “It was a tough swim, however I really enjoyed it, plus having a day out with the family and remembering Grandad was lovely.”

Regional Event Organiser, Fran Watson said: “We are extremely pleased with the event and would like to thank everyone for taking such a big plunge into cold waters. All money raised will help us continue our fight against heart disease. We are really looking forward to next year!”

Buy pictures of the Brighton Sea Swim.
Find out you can take part in our events