AS NEW figures show that cardiovascular disease (CVD) takes the lives of 775 people in Wales each month, researchers funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) are fighting back.
The heart charity says that too many people die prematurely from devastating cardiovascular conditions, which include heart attack and stroke. 375,000 people in Wales are living with cardiovascular disease and it causes more than one in four of all deaths in the UK.
Today BHF Cymru has outlined its ambition to reduce premature deaths from CVD by 25 per cent by 2025 through increasing its investment in research and reducing the time it takes to turn new discoveries into life-saving medical treatments.
Research breakthroughs have played a major role in the halving of premature deaths in the under 75s over the last 20 years. Advances in heart attack treatments mean 70 per cent of victims leave hospital alive and the use of statins is helping millions cut their risk of having a heart attack.
This week BHF Cymru launched “We fight for every heartbeat: Our strategy to 2020” to continue this downward trend, with researchers from Cardiff University at the helm of future life-saving discoveries, where over 20 research projects are funded, costing over £5m.
Alan Williams, BHF Sir Thomas Lewis Professor of Cardiovascular Science, and his team at Cardiff University investigate how calcium flows in and around heart muscle cells, as this affects how the heart pumps blood around the body. Faults in the flow of calcium can sometimes cause life-threatening heart rhythm problems.
This research will lead to a better understanding of what causes heart rhythm problems and could in the future lead to focussed therapies to prevent these dangerous conditions.
BHF Professor Williams, from the University of Cardiff, said:
“Cardiovascular disease blights the lives of too many people in Wales. But our research could help us better understand fatal heart rhythm problems that can lead to a cardiac arrest.
“We hope the work we’re doing now will benefit future generations for years to come. We’re committed to reducing the number of people living with, and dying from cardiovascular conditions across Wales.”
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF, said:
"These figures are a stark reminder of the unacceptable number of people that lose their lives to cardiovascular disease every year, often increased by the place they live. There is still so much more we need to do.
“We’ve made huge progress in the fight against cardiovascular disease, with 70 per cent of heart attack victims now surviving to go home to their families. With the help of our supporters, we’ll increase investment and accelerate our world-class research that could save the lives of more people that die prematurely. We remain determined to win the fight against cardiovascular disease, improving the lives of the seven million people living with it and saving those that currently die too young.”
By increasing investment in research, the BHF’s strategy offers a new focus on reducing the time it takes to turn research discoveries into life-saving medical treatments. For the first time the BHF will fund a dedicated translational research awards scheme totalling at least £5 million over five years, which will explicitly bridge the gap between a scientist’s initial findings and the treatments that will change and extend the lives of heart patients.
There is also a firm commitment to reduce the levels of inequality when it comes to cardiovascular disease deaths to make sure that people have the best chance to live a life free of fear of dying from CVD, regardless of where they live.
To find out more about the strategy or to make a donation to support our life-saving research go to bhf.org.uk/strategy.