The Great Western Hospital is raising awareness of the British Heart Foundation’s new Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, a new research project looking into using regenerative medicine to repair damaged hearts of patients who have heart failure as a result of a heart attack. The burden of debilitating heart failure has risen relentlessly since the Sixties, inspiring a major new research programme by the British Heart Foundation to find a cure, which could help hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.
Heart failure, which is commonly caused by damage to the heart during a heart attack, means the heart can no longer pump properly. It is one of the UK’s leading causes of disability with some patients housebound and fighting for breath, making getting out of bed or eating a meal incredibly difficult.
When the BHF was founded in 1961, an estimated 100,000 people in the UK had heart failure. But an ageing population and the fact more people now survive heart attacks mean more than 750,000 people now live with the condition and even higher numbers are expected in future.
To try to address this, the BHF has unveiled a major new programme of research in regenerative medicine to repair damaged hearts. The Mending Broken Hearts project will involve stem cell research and developmental biology to understand the mechanisms needed to repair or replace damaged heart muscle and literally begin to mend broken hearts in as little as ten years time.
Part of the inspiration for the research programme is that regeneration already occurs in nature. Some animals, such as Zebrafish, can regrow portions of their own hearts.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: “Since the BHFs inception 50 years ago, we’ve made great strides in medical research to better diagnose and treat people with all kinds of heart problems. But the biggest issue that still eludes us is how to help people once their heart has been damaged by a heart attack.”
“Scientifically, mending human hearts is an achievable goal and we really could make recovering from a heart attack as simple as getting over a broken leg. But we need to spend 50 million to make this a reality, and currently the resources and investment we need are simply not available.”
To fund the programme, the charity is encouraging people across the UK to support its Mending Broken Hearts Appeal. The five-year fundraising campaign is the charity’s most ambitious to date, and coincides with the BHF’s 50th Anniversary.
New artwork has been especially created by top British contemporary artists for the British Heart Foundation Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, and Great Western Hospital’s Arts for Health Group has arranged for the works to be displayed at the hospital in support of the appeal.
The collection of 15 limited edition silk-screen prints feature bespoke work by well-known artists including Sir Peter Blake, Brendan Neiland, Bruce McLean and Patrick Hughes, will be on public view from 8 February-12 March 2011 in the gallery space on the ground floor of the hospital.
Fine art publishers CCA Galleries Limited have coordinated the collection and the prints have been made by Coriander Studios, London. On Friday 11 February 2011 the CCA Art Bus (a re-cycled Liverpool double-decker designed by artist Sir Peter Blake) will visit GWH to promote the exhibition and The Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.
Dominic Weston Smith, Arts Co-ordinator at GWH said: “We are so pleased to be able to display these fantastic prints in the hospital and support the British Heart Foundation’s Mending Broken Hearts Appeal. Art in hospitals has been recognised for some time now as providing considerable benefits to patients, staff and visitors.
“The CCA Art Bus is wonderfully eye-catching and will be parked outside the hospital on February 11 so we encourage everyone to come along on the day to view the prints and find out more about BHF’s appeal.”
Dr Edward Barnes Consultant Cardiologist at GWH said: “This is a major piece of research being funded by the British Heart Foundation and could revolutionise the way patients with heart failure as a result of a heart attack are treated, and how well they recover. It is so important that people support the appeal, so it is great that we have this opportunity to raise awareness of it by exhibiting the artwork.
“It is also quite timely as our second Cardiac Catheter Laboratory will be opening at the beginning of April as part of a £2.5m investment to improve the care for patients requiring cardiac procedures at GWH. When it opens, the new lab will provide an increase in capacity to help meet rising demand for life saving procedures such as angiography, angioplasty and stenting.”
For more information about the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal visit www.bhf.org.uk/mbh