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Welsh Heart scientists in the red

5 February 2016

British Heart Foundation

Heart scientists in Cardiff will take a break from tackling the mysteries of the number one cause of death globally, to help raise funds for Wales’ prime heart charity this week.

Two groups of scientists at Cardiff University, whose work are being funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) will join thousands of people across the UK this week to support the charity’s Wear it. Beat it. campaign to raise £1 million to power more lifesaving discoveries.

BHF Professor Alan Williams, Chair of cardiovascular science, at Cardiff University, and his team, together with a team led by Professor Valerie O’Donnell will don red lab coats and get competitive for a cake bake off and a marathon rowing and baking challenge.

Prof Williams said: “We want to raise awareness of the importance of BHF funding in helping us understand more about heart disease. Current treatments for managing people with abnormal heart rhythms are not very effective. We hope that by gaining a better understanding of how these heart rhythm disturbances occur, we will be able to find new ways of diagnosing the disease earlier and treating it more effectively. That is why we are organising an exciting and competitive bake-off within the Wales Heart Research Institute. We wanted to get involved and every pound raised will help us change the lives of millions living with heart and circulatory conditions We may even see as much talent in baking as within our scientific research.” 

Case study story: Rhys Hinton of Goetre near Pontypool was a fit 32 year old who collapsed of a cardiac arrest in his home four years ago, just hours after playing a round of golf. After being successfully resuscitated and treated at hospital he was diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome.  It’s a rare inherited heart rhythm disturbance that restricts the flow of sodium ions into the heart cells. As a result, the flow of electrical impulses through the heart is disrupted, which can lead to life-threatening heart rhythms. Professor Williams’ research at Cardiff could lead the way to better understand what exactly brings about these dangerous changes in heart rhythms and will feed into the development of focused treatment to prevent people in the future from  potentially dying from heart rhythm abnormalities. 

Professor Valerie O’Donnell and her team at The Systems Immunity Research Institute, Cardiff University have received BHF funding to look at why the cells that circulate in our bloodstream and stop bleeding, called platelets, become overactive in people who have cardiovascular disease. In these people overactive platelets can cause excess clots to occur within blood vessels, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.  She said:  “We at the University’s Wales Heart Research Institute, are participating in fundraising events to join the fun across the UK – with a bake off cake sale and a biking rowathon to offset any calories consumed during the fun bake off sale!”

Ruth Coombs, Head of BHF Cymru said: “Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter of deaths in Wales – an average of 25 people a day. We’re only able to fund research like this in Wales to improve and save lives because of the generosity of people who donate and fundraise for us across the country. We are delighted that our researchers have today put their brain power to different use by raising standards in baking cakes and physical challenges. We know that many more people in Wales will be supporting us with various activities today and this continued support will help us deliver on our plans for research over the next five years.”

Since 2009 Wear it. Beat it. has raised over £6 million towards new cardiovascular science. Last year, an amazing 23,000 people took part in Wear it. Beat it. To find out more visit

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