Reporter 461, 12 February 2001

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Pioneering Gene Research Spearheads

British Heart Foundations 40th Birthday

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) today kicked off it's 40th Anniversary celebrations by announcing the launch of the worlds largest study ever to be undertaken into family heart disease. The new research project called the BHF Family Heart study aims to pinpoint the rogue genes which contribute to coronary heart disease.

The 2.5 million project marks the start of a year long anniversary campaign called 'Take Heart, Take part' which aims to educate members of the public about heart disease and encourage them to take positive steps towards looking after their own heart health. The BHF is pledging to work towards the declaration that 'every child born into the new millennium should have a right to live to at least 65 without suffering from avoidable heart disease'.

The pioneering new study (being carried out jointly by Leeds and Leicester Universities) is seeking families across the UK who have a history of hereditary heart disease and who are prepared to give a small blood sample to the project. A special DNA library is to be set up which will enable researchers to map genes across family groups in order to identify and isolate the problem genes. The researchers hope that a clearer understanding of the genetic factors of heart diseases will help to eradicate the condition in the future.

Leeds Professor Alistair Hall, who is joint-leadering of the study in Leeds comments, "People who have at least one close family member with early coronary heart disease are four ten times more likely to develop similar problems themselves. The BHF Family Heart Sstudy is about giving people who have suffered premature heart disease the chance to make a difference, not just to the future generations of their own families, but to the future also of others both in this country and throughout the world" the whole country.

From January 18th 2001, the study goes on the road to recruit participants. On board a converted London bus, the nation-wide tour will visit cities across the UK in order to publicise the project and recruit families. The bus tour is being sponsored by Sainsburys who have adopted the British Heart Foundation as their charity of the year for 2001.

Professor Sir Charles George, Medical Director of the BHF says, "We are delighted to be marking our 40th anniversary with the largest grant the BHF has ever awarded for a single study. Our commitment to fighting the UK's biggest killer has never been stronger and across 2001 we will be celebrating our 40 years of progress with an exciting year of high profile events and campaigns."

Gill Fines, company nutritionist for Sainsburys, sponsors of the FHS Bus Tour, adds, "Oour support for the Family Heart Study Bus Tour enables the team to secure much-needed participation in the project. Working with the BHF is a great way of supporting one of our key messages for 2001, that healthy eating is one of the most simple ways to make a difference to the health of your heart."

Launching the BHF Family Heart Study forms the first part of the BHF's 40th Anniversary year activities. Across the year there will be five major bursts of special 40th activity which add to the organisations regular diary of research funding, educational work and national events. The organisation is also encouraging members of the public to hold special anniversary 'Parties for Life' and other fundraising events during 2001. Celebrities from the world of show business and sport will also be adding their weight to the organisation in its special year. Messages of support have already been received from Vinnie Jones, Cliff Richard, Chris Tarrant and Sally Gunnell.

In 2001, the BHF is determined to make everyone understand the impact they can have on the health of their own, and their close family's, hearts.


For further information, interviews or case studies please contact Jessica Rowntree or Sophi Nauman at GBC Consumer on 0208 322 1922 or email or

Notes to Editors:

© The British Heart Foundation is a major national charity that plays a leading role in the fight against heart and circulatory disease, the UK's biggest killer. It is the largest independent funder of heart research in the UK. The Foundation also plays an important role in funding education, both of the public and of health professionals, and in providing life-saving cardiac equipment and support for rehabilitation and patient care. It receives no government funding.

?FTo for more advise or information, and for those wishing or to help get involved with Tthe BHF Family Heart Study please call 0800 052 7154

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