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
– 1963: Pacemaker pioneer
– 1964: UK’s first coronary care unit
– 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
– 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
– 1990: Killer genes found
– 1995: The benefits of statins discovered
– 2004: Anti-smoking campaign
– 2004: The first heart failure specialist nurses
– 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
– 2012: Vinnie Jones and hands-only CPR
– 2015: Pippa Middleton does charity bike ride
– 2017: Nationwide testing for deadly inherited heart condition
– 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
– 2021: BHF stores reopen after lockdown to record sales