Our vision is of a world in which people do not die prematurely of heart disease. We’ll achieve this through pioneering research, vital prevention activity and ensuring quality care and support for everyone living with heart disease.

British Heart Foundation strategy

Making our vision a reality

Our vision couldn’t be much more ambitious – a world where people no longer die prematurely from heart disease.

When you have a vision that big in mind, it helps to set some milestones along the way. That’s why we’ve set a number of objectives to guide our day-to-day work. But we can’t do any of it alone. We are working alongside government, other health charities, health professionals and thousands of dedicated supporters to beat heart disease. Everybody has a part to play.

Aims and objectives

Our Mission is to play a leading role in the fight against disease of the heart and circulation, so that it is no longer a major cause of disability and premature death. In our strategy report, ‘Beating heart disease together’ (published in 2007), we stated that:

Within a generation, we aim to:

Reduce cardiovascular disease in the UK to one of the lowest levels in Europe.

Within a decade, we aim to:

Half the number of people under 75 who die from cardiovascular disease, make sure at least two thirds of people under 75 survive a heart attack, reduce heart-related deaths in all UK local authority areas to the current level in South East England or below, reverse the increase in childhood obesity.

Research

We will continue to pioneer research into the causes of heart disease and improved methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

We aim to achieve this by: targeting our research funding effectively, identifying new areas of relevant science, attracting the best researchers in the UK and from abroad, providing them with the funding, equipment and facilities to achieve the best results, concentrating funding on BHF Centres of Research Excellence.

Our achievements in 2008-09

Millions of people are counting on our research efforts to succeed. This year, Dr Yin-Biao Sun was one of the many people working towards the next breakthrough.

Transforming our understanding

Dr Sun is a BHF Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London. He has already transformed our understanding of how heart muscle cells work, showing that the molecular process is simpler than previously thought. Although medicines targeting this process are some years off, we’re building on this research and previous breakthroughs in identifying the genetic ‘signature’ that signals potential inherited heart disease.
One of the results is the BHF Genetic Information Service (0300 456 8383), designed for families with a history of inherited heart disease and Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

Using our service, you can now find out what specialist clinical support is available to you and gain an immediate referral. It’s just one of the ways in which our investment in the best research minds is giving real cause for hope in the long term.

Other highlights in brief

Led by Professor Andrew Neil at the University of Oxford, a BHF Research Centre of Excellence, our research has made the case for targeted screening to identify the 100,000 people currently affected by a hereditary condition known as Familial Hypercholesterolaemia.

This year also saw a discovery that could slow the premature ageing of coronary arteries by using treatment with statins to kick-start the cells’ ability to repair themselves. Based on work by our team in Cambridge, this is bringing us closer to a full understanding of the cellular mechanisms that cause heart attacks.

Last summer, we announced the winners of our annual science image competition Reflections of Research, designed to raise awareness of our wider research work. Visit our website to see the winning entries.

Information

We will provide vital information to help people reduce their own heart health risk.

We aim to achieve this by: understanding what information people most need to help them live with a healthy heart, piloting services that help people identify their personal risk of cardiovascular disease, emphasising the importance of a heart healthy lifestyle through national social marketing campaigns, increasing public involvement in heart health, working with Government Health Departments to encourage people to stop smoking and combat rising obesity, leading the European Heart Network’s lobbying for compulsory front-of-pack labelling for fats, salt and sugar, working with staff and sector specialists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to develop programmes for their speci?c needs.

Our acheivements in 2008-09

Over the course of 2008-09, we have reached out to people of all ages and backgrounds to give them the information they need to reduce their own heart risk.

Online mini-me

Yoobots were designed to inspire a hard-to-reach group – young children and teenagers. Children were encouraged to create an online mini-me, which they could then experiment with to see the effects of different diets and forms of exercise. 78% said Yoobots made them eat more healthily. Since the launch in November 2008, over one million Yoobots have been created – and 78% of those taking part said that it has made them eat more healthily.

Other highlights in brief

Over six million people viewed our two-minute TV advert Watch Your Own Heart Attack.

205 new defibrillators have been sited in key areas across London. This is alongside our work to support 1,200 people being trained in Emergency Life Support skills.

We have partnered with Diabetes UK and Cancer Research UK on a Change4life initiative, designed to tackle the rise in levels of childhood obesity. The charity campaign attracted nearly 17,000 visitors to the website

We have run eight free two-day courses on the prevention and management of heart disease for trainers and interpreters connected with black and minority ethnic groups.

We’re also continuing to roll out our Heart Matters service, offering a unique package of support and information for people looking to improve their heart health. There are now over 90,000 subscribers to this service.

Campaigning

We will get government to establish policies that minimise the risk of developing heart and circulatory disease

We aim to achieve this by: asking people affected by heart disease what issues impact them the most, and how they would like to get involved in campaigning for change, lobbying with partner organisations, working in partnership with charities, the Department of Health and Government, identifying opportunities to in?uence the Government agenda on emerging issues such as the role of charities in providing services in the NHS.

Our achievements in 2008-09

Keeping the pressure on government is not a battle we can fight alone. We aim to inspire support through imaginative collaborations such as the Cardio & Vascular Coalition (CVC). This brings together 41 voluntary sector organisations to campaign for improved cardiac and vascular health in England.

Destination 2020

The CVC has recently published a new set of policy aspirations for the next decade, called Destination 2020: A plan for cardiac and vascular health. It’s designed to pin down future priorities and also incorporates related conditions such as stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

135,000 signatures

Our supporters are now pushing for this plan to become a reality. We’ve attracted over 135,000 petition signatures – giving a voice to thousands of people who would otherwise not have been heard.

Other highlights in brief

In 2009, we won a major commitment from the Scottish Government to ban cigarette sales from vending machines – one of the main ways in which children under 18 continue to get hold of cigarettes.

After a year of intense lobbying, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland has included Emergency Life-saving Skills as a new standard within the Cardiovascular Health & Wellbeing Service Framework, Northern Ireland. We’re now looking to repeat this success elsewhere in the UK.

We published a report on the way parents are being misled by junk food marketing aimed at children. Over 15,500 people signed postcards to be delivered to Gordon Brown, while a further 2,500 signed up through an innovative partnership with Guardian Online.

Care

We will help attain the highest possible standards of care and support for patients.

We aim to achieve this by: understanding the day to day needs of people living with heart disease, equipping patients and carers to maximise patient heart health and quality of life, increasing resuscitation capacity, to help maximise heart attack survival, responding to, and representing, the needs of patients and carers, helping patients and carers to develop heart health services effectively, investing in health care professionals to improve heart patients’ quality of life, helping develop other organisations to build capacity in prevention and care, promoting better training and accreditation for heart health care professionals, training and supporting more specialist BHF Heart Nurses.

Our achievements in 2008-09

So much of our work is about making a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis. One of the most important ways we do this is by training, supporting and empowering the BHF Heart Nurses who deliver care at the front line.

Nurse Excellence Rewards

In 2008, we launched our Nurse Excellence Rewards to honour today’s outstanding performers and inspire the next generation of cardiac nurses. Over 300 of our BHF Heart Nurses attended the first awards night in October, turning it into a real celebration.

Anne White – outstanding performance

The star of the show was Anne White, who scooped the Outstanding Performance award. Anne was recently appointed BHF Cardiac Genetic Nurse at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, the latest in a long line of career achievements that include helping to establish an innovative cardiac rehabilitation service and local patient support group.

Attracting a new generation of BHF Heart Nurses

Anne is one of over 400 BHF Heart Nurses nationwide, all providing expert cardiac care for patients in their homes and in hospital. By continuing to fund and support them, as well as attracting a new generation through our awards, we plan to raise standards well into the future.

Other highlights in brief

Launched in January 2009, our Beating Heart TV campaign aimed to let people know about the support available through our Heart HelpLine and BHF website.

It led to 10,885 people calling the Heart HelpLine – more than a year’s worth of calls in two months.

September 2008 saw the results of the National Audit for Cardiac Rehabilitation, a coalition between the BHF and a number of other organisations.

The results have received widespread media coverage, showing that the average cardiac rehabilitation patient receives just 79% of the recommended nursing time, 36% of the physiotherapy, and 16% of the professional dietetic support required by some guidelines.

We have funded ten nurses, six radiographers and six cardiac physiologists on a new course in Adult Cardiac Catheter Laboratory Practice, helping to fill a worrying skills shortage in this increasingly widespread clinical practice.

25 new students will enrol in October 2009, with that number expected to double when the scheme is rolled out to another university next year.

Equality

We will reduce inequalities in the levels of heart disease across the UK.

We aim to achieve this by: focusing on communities and locations where the problem is most severe, typically those which are socially and economically deprived, and have specific high-risk ethnic groups.

Our achievements in 2008-09

Our BHF Heart Health Roadshows are designed to target those parts of the community where the risk of heart disease is greater than others, by taking the message directly to them. The first pilot scheme took place in Newcastle in 2009 – and it’s already made a big difference.

Free consultation

Judith Moffat was doing her shopping in Asda when she met our roadshow team and had a free consultation with a BHF Heart Nurse. It was only then that she discovered her blood pressure was very high – and received clear, practical advice and a referral to her GP to help change her life for the better.

Since then, the transformation has been amazing. Judith has lost over two stone in weight and now goes to the gym regularly and eats healthily.

New roadshows across the country

We aim to help many more people like Judith by rolling out the new roadshows across the country – from East London to Bradford. We are also working on an online lifestyle check to launch later in 2009.

Other highlights in brief:

Our Hearty Lives initiative has seen us providing support to taxi drivers in Dundee and local teenagers in Newham – providing everything from specialist advice for those in jobs that involve remaining seated for long periods, to support on stopping smoking.

We now plan to expand the programme to other high-risk communities throughout the UK.

We’ve partnered Marie Curie Cancer Care on the Better Together initiative, designed to encourage BHF Heart Failure Specialist Nurses to refer patients for specialist care at the end of life. As a result of our work together, referrals have risen to as high as 17% (depending on the location).