James Cant: BHF needs more help to research heart failure among Scots

James Cant. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

James Cant. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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More than 45,000 people in Scotland have been diagnosed with heart failure, according to our latest statistics.

It’s a debilitating and frightening condition, most commonly caused by a heart attack, which causes damage to the heart muscle that can never be repaired. This means a person’s heart fails to pump blood around the body efficiently, leaving many sufferers in a constant fight for a good quality of life. Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath and fluid retention.

Sadly, up to a third of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure will die within 12 months.

And while there is medication to manage the condition and control symptoms, there is currently no cure. The only hope for some people with severe heart failure is a heart transplant. Those with mild or moderate heart failure may be able to live a more normal life with the right medication.

The BHF is the largest funder of heart research in Scotland and we’re currently spending nearly £62 million. But we urgently need more research into heart failure in Scotland to help those thousands of sufferers.

People like David Smith who suffered a heart attack and went on to develop severe heart failure. He is now on the heart transplant list.

David’s only 53 but he’s had to give up work and he can only walk about 20 metres until he’s totally out of breath and has to stop.

Through our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, the BHF is funding Professor David Newby and his team at the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh to explore a range of approaches to understand the consequences of heart failure and to help discover new approaches to its treatment.

Through the power of research we want to give hope and a better quality of life to people with debilitating conditions like heart failure, and give hope to their loved ones too.

Find out more about heart failure and the BHF’s life saving research at bhf.org.uk/findthecure.

• James Cant is director of the British Heart Foundation Scotland