60 years of the British Heart Foundation’s pioneering work

The charity has spent decades funding the brightest minds to make medical breakthroughs.

60 years of the British Heart Foundation’s pioneering work

The British Heart Foundation, one of the UK’s best known charities, celebrates its 60th birthday on Wednesday.

Founded in 1961 when 70% of heart attacks were fatal, the BHF has spent decades funding the brightest minds to make medical breakthroughs – including the country’s first heart transplant.

Now, thanks to its pioneering work, at least 70% of people who have heart attacks survive, while most born with congenital diseases go on to live healthy lives.

With the nation emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, the BHF is calling on people to support them in paying for the next 60 years of vital research, so cures and treatments can be found for the 7.6 million people still living with heart and circulatory diseases.

Here is a list of the charity’s milestones:

– 1961: The British Heart Foundation is founded

Patron of the British Heart Foundation, the Duke of Edinburgh in the grounds of Buckingham Palace cutting a heart-shaped cake to give a royal send-off to Heart Week '85 (PA/PA Archive)
Patron of the British Heart Foundation the Duke of Edinburgh in the grounds of Buckingham Palace cutting a heart-shaped cake to give a royal send-off to Heart Week ’85 (PA)

– 1963: Pacemaker pioneer

Aubrey Leatham - pacemaker pioneer - with Queen Elizabeth
Aubrey Leatham, pacemaker pioneer, with the Queen (PA)

– 1964: UK’s first coronary care unit

BHF professor who started first coronary care unit in UK
Dr Desmond Julian, who started the first coronary care unit in UK (British Heart Foundation)

– 1965: First defibrillator in an ambulance

Dr Frank Pantridge received a BHF grant to use a portable defibrillator in an ambulance for the first time.

– 1968: First UK heart transplant

Frederick West, Britain’s first heart transplant patient
Frederick West, Britain’s first heart transplant patient (PA)

– 1980s: AF and stroke connection

Atrial fibrillation (AF) was regarded as harmless until the 1980s when it was realised to be a major cause of strokes. Early work by BHF Professor John Camm at St George’s University London in the 1990s showed the relative importance of heart rate and rhythm control in different patient populations, especially in people with AF.

– 1986: The first BHF shop opens

First BHF shop opened in 1986 in Sittingbourne
The first BHF shop opened in 1986 in Sittingbourne (PA)

– 1990: Killer genes found

Professor Hugh Watkins is the BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the BHF Centre of Research Excellence John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford
Professor Hugh Watkins is the BHF professor of cardiovascular medicine at the BHF Centre of Research Excellence John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford (PA)

– 1995: The benefits of statins discovered

Statins
Statins (Lauren Hurley/PA)

– 2004: Anti-smoking campaign

BHF cigarette advert 2004
A BHF cigarette advert in 2004 (BHF/PA)

– 2004: The first heart failure specialist nurses

First BHF nurses appointed 1996
a BHF nurse (PA)

– 2010: Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH)

BHF-funded genetic testing for potentially fatal familial hypercholesterolaemia, which affects one in 250 in the UK, was launched.

– 2011: Zebrafish heart breakthrough

Zebrafish up close in lab being studied for their heart healing qualities
Zebrafish up close in a lab being studied for their heart-healing qualities (PA)

– 2012: Vinnie Jones and hands-only CPR

Hands only CPR campaign led by Vinnie Jones in 2012
The hands-only CPR campaign led by Vinnie Jones in 2012 (BHF/PA)

– 2015: Pippa Middleton does charity bike ride

Pippa Middleton rides London to Brighton for BHF in 2015
Pippa Middleton rode from London to Brighton for the BHF in 2015 (BHF/PA)

– 2017: Nationwide testing for deadly inherited heart condition

Miles Frost died of the congenital heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Miles Frost died of the congenital heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (PA)

– 2019: 3,000 people diagnosed with FH

Three thousand people in England and Scotland received a diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited condition that significantly increases the risk of premature coronary heart disease.

– 2020: BHF eBay store sells millionth item

Rare Beatle's record fetches almost £10,000
A rare Beatles record fetched almost £10,000 for BHF (PA)

– 2021: BHF stores reopen after lockdown to record sales

BHF shops opening after lockdown 2021
A BHF shop reopens after lockdown in 2021 (PA)
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News