Wednesday, 27 July 2011

BHF blog update: goodbye

Hi blog readers,

I thought it would be good to update you all on our future plans for blogging as we haven't updated our blog for awhile.

We have been using Blogger for many years and we have had some great posts - most notably our London to Brighton Bike Ride updates from 2010 and our live chats with BHF experts.

However, as we began to think about what blogging meant to us and how we can give you the best content we can we realised that Blogger wasn't the best place for us to make the most impact with our content. We have reviewed all the content on our website and you may have noticed more 'blog' like content already, which has meant that we have blogged less here.

We have now decided to close this blog and after October we will be launching our own blogging area on our website that will make it a lot easier for you to find our content and in future even submit a blog for us.

In the meantime a big thank you to all the subscribers, readers and those of you who have commented on our blog. We hope that you will follow us on our new blog
after October.

If you can't wait until then you can interact with us online in lots of ways already:

On our Facebook page
Twitter account
Our online community
Our YouTube channel

Thanks and best wishes,

Roberto Kusabbi
Community & Social Media
British Heart Foundation

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Today's tobacco plan is a victory for public health

Today is No Smoking Day and the Coalition Government has announced details of its new Tobacco Control Plan. We're really pleased to see the plan includes a range of measures which will help protect people from the dangers of smoking.

Today's announcement includes:

  • Implementing important legislation that will stop tobacco being displayed in large shops in England from April next year, and all other shops from April 2015.
  • A consultation on plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes across the UK by the end of the year. Under the proposal, cigarette packaging would be plain-coloured and show simply the product name, brand and health warnings.

We’re pleased to see the Government will defend the ban on cigarette vending machines due in October because we’ve been fighting hard to make sure this ban goes ahead.

Our Director of Policy and Communication, Betty McBride, said:

“The Coalition Government has been under enormous pressure from a tobacco industry hell-bent on derailing important legislation banning tobacco displays in shops. Today is a victory for health campaigners and show of strength from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

“Though we’re slightly disappointed the display ban is being delayed, it will help prevent the industry from marketing their products to children and will go a long way to helping young people avoid a lifetime of addiction and health problems. The introduction of plain packaging would complement the ban and signal the end of slick, colourful designs used as ‘silent salesmen’.

“Before today’s announcement, tobacco bosses have been keeping busy scaremongering retailers with claims that the display ban will see them facing an insurmountable financial burden. The evidence from the ban in Ireland disproves those claims and the changes the Government has made to the legislation, including giving shopkeepers more time to comply, should provide further reassurance.”

We're interested in today's announcement because we know that smoking increases your risk of heart disease and despite one in five premature deaths from heart and circulatory disease being linked to smoking, 21 per cent of adults in Great Britain still smoke cigarettes. In fact, two thirds took up the habit before they were 18 years old.

We've been campaigning for a tobacco display ban to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children. We've also been calling for plain packaging, so thanks to everyone who's helped campaign hard to make this happen.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The "live" chat is now closed

Thank you to all of you who have asked us questions about our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.

The live chat is now closed. Sorry to all of those questions that we couldn't answer, we will start to answer these individually in the coming week.

Thanks again for all your support.

My teenager will need another aortic valve replacement in few years time. Could stem cells work on repairing valves

Thanks for your question.

Many scientists hope that stem cell research will have benefits for heart valve problems.

However, at the current state of play it’s more likely that they’ll be used to grow more durable replacement valves in the lab, rather than using stem cells to repair our own damaged or abnormal valves.

So, surgical valve replacement is likely to be here for some time.

Is the woman in your advert a real person who has heart failure?

Hello, thanks for your question.

The woman in our advertising is an actress, but the story she’s depicting is very real. It’s based on a lady called Joanne Ward. You can read her real story on our website.

Joanne helped us develop the adverts and we’re incredibly grateful to her for giving her time and sharing her story to help us launch the Appeal.

Joanne is a Facebook fan of the BHF, so if she reads this she might even post to say hello!

Thanks for your question

Bruce asks us whether we will be holding any clinical trials in Scotland

Hi Bruce, thanks for your question.

There are centres in Scotland – including Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh - that are very active in heart failure research.

If you have heart failure yourself, your cardiologist is best placed to advise you about any trials that you might be eligible for now or in the future.

Hope that helps, best wishes and thanks for taking part in our live chat.

Darren asks us whether our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal research will help those with dilated cardiomyopathy

Hi Darren, thanks for your question.

At this stage it’s not clear if regenerative medicine research funded by the Appeal will have direct benefits for people with dilated cardiomyopathy. But it’s really too early to know for sure.

However, we’re well aware of the importance of the condition. The Appeal is funding research over and above our current research spend, so please be assured that we will continue to fund a great deal of research into the genetic and molecular causes of dilated cardiomyopathy in the hope that new treatments will emerge.

Thanks again and best wishes for the future

Sheila asks us what percentage of donations will be spent on research

Hi Sheila, thank you for your question and for taking part in our live chat

All of the money we raise in the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal will be ringfenced for regenerative medicine research.

It’s a 10 year research programme. We’ll be awarding research grants to the best scientists across the UK and bringing in top-class researchers from abroad. We’ll also invest in equipment and infrastructure so that these researchers have the cutting-edge facilities they need to achieve the goal of Mending Broken Hearts. We’ll also be funding clinical trials.
Thanks you for your support and best wishes

Rebecca asks is our research will mean an end to heart surgery and heart attacks

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for joining our live chat and for asking a question.

The main aim of the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is to fund research that would repair heart muscle that has been damaged by a heart attack. That damage can cause heart failure, which can be a debilitating condition and currently affects around three quarters of a million people in the UK.

So, we hope that it will mean an end to heart transplant surgery – which currently is the only option for people with severe heart failure.

We already spend around £70 million a year on research, much of which is aimed at preventing heart attacks and the need for heart surgery. The regenerative medicine research funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal will be in addition to this.

Since we began in 1961 the death rate from heart attacks has more than halved. But there’s still a long way to go.

Charlie asks us about his irregular heart beat

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for asking us your question.

It’s difficult for us to give you a full answer without the details.

But having a low pulse and irregular heart beat at your age doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your heart.

If you’re really worried you should talk to someone in your family, or ask your parents to speak to your doctor.

Best wishes and thanks again

Russ asks us about technology that strips cells from donor tissues

Hi Russ,

Thanks for your question, a very interesting one.

Yes, that may be a possibility. This technique is already been done with rat hearts and this line of investigation is being pursued in some labs around the world.

Other scientists are looking at ways of creating ‘patches’ of human heart that could be used to replace a portion of damaged heart using this approach.

Thanks again for your question and best wishes

Angela asks us about Ischaemic heart disease

Dear Angela,

Sorry to hear you’re feeling unwell.

If you are concerned about any changes to your health, you should talk your doctor. He or she will be best placed to know if you should be referred for tests on your heart.

If you need further information do call our helpline on 0300 330 3311

But, your first port of call should be your doctor.

Thanks again and best wishes

Marie asks when clinical trials will start

Hi Marie,

Thanks for your question, hope that your husband is feeling okay after his operation.

Research funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is not currently at the stage of running clinical trials. We hope that early trials will take place within the next five years.

These early trials are likely to be on a small number of patients, and those that are most severely affected by heart failure.

Your husband’s cardiologist would be the best person to point you towards any clinical trials being undertaken locally that your husband would be eligible to join.

Thanks and best wishes

Steve asks if the research will help those with angina

Dear Steve, thanks for your question.

The primary aim of the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is to learn how to repair heart muscle once it’s become damaged after a heart attack.

Angina occurs when there’s a poor blood supply to healthy heart. So, it’s the blood vessels that are the problem, not the heart muscle.

However, the research funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal will involve learning about blood vessels, and how they grow. This could ultimately lead to new ways to treat angina too.

Jayne asks how we discovered that the zebrafish could regenerate its heart

Hi Jayne,

Thanks for your question.

How did you discover that the zebrafish could regenerate its heart? Thanks Jayne for your supportive comments. Good question about the zebrafish! But actually it’s not just fish that can do this – other vertebrates such as some frogs and axolotls can do the trick too. In fact axolotls can even regenerate entire limbs. What we need to find out is why humans can’t do it. Or – as one of our scientists puts it – “how we can make a human more like a fish”! The great thing about zebrafish is that when they’re young they’re see-through, so you can see their hearts and see how their hearts grow and develop.

Chris asks if the Government are funding our appeal.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your question.

The BHF – and the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal - relies wholly on public support. But we have always worked closely with Government funded research organisations like the Medical Research Council (MRC) to ensure the best use of resources. The MRC have also made regenerative medicine a priority.We’ve already jointly funded (with the MRC) three groups around the UK – at Cambridge, Imperial College and Manchester – to study different aspects of stem cell behaviour. We see this as a prelude to our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.

Gillian asks how long will it take for the research to become practical

Hello Gillian, thanks for your question.

The nature of research is that it tends to be a steady process. It’s rarely the ‘big bang’ breakthroughs that headlines report, more a stepwise process with each research project adding another small piece to the jigsaw.

However, a decade ago we couldn’t have predicted how far we’d have come already, so we can’t predict what discoveries our scientists will make tomorrow, next week, or next year.
Having said that, our estimates for the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal are that over the next five years, we’ll ramp up our support for leading scientists in laboratories around the UK. We also intend to develop up to two Centres of Regenerative Medicine to facilitate this groundbreaking work.

Within five years we hope to begin early clinical trials, within 10 we aim to be running full trials, and within a further decade we hope people who are living with heart disease will be able to look forward to a brighter future.

"Live" chat on Mending Broken Hearts has started

Our "live" chat with Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg on Mending Broken Hearts Appeal has now started!

So send in your questions and keey an eye on our blog for our answers

Monday, 21 February 2011

Live chat on our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal

Join our live chat online with the BHF Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg on Thursday 24th of February between 4pm and 6pm.

Peter will be answering your questions “live” on our BHF blog with questions coming from the our Facebook page, Twitter and email.

This is your chance to ask us about our new appeal, you could ask us about the Zebrafish and what we can learn from them.

Or perhaps you want to know more about regenerative medicine, whatever your question we look forward to hearing them.

How do I ask a question?

The "live chat" will take place on Thursday 24th February 2011 between 4pm and 6pm.

If you can’t make that time but would still like to ask a question you can send us your question now and check the blog after 6pm on Thursday to find out your answer.

You can send us your question by:

• Emailing us your question to

• Posting it on the BHF Facebook page

Tweeting your question with the hashtag #HOPEisComing

We look forward to hearing from you!

You can be reminded of the "live" chat by accepting our event on Facebook.