Two SCAD survivors shortlisted for BHF Heart Hero Awards

Bronnach Pemberton and Rebecca Breslin (pictured) have both been shortlisted for the British Heart Foundation’s annual Heart Hero Awards.

The awards recognise the drive and determination of individuals and groups who are helping to fight heart disease.

Bronnach, who had eight heart attacks soon after she gave birth to her third child, is now living with heart failure. That hasn’t stopped her helping both Beat SCAD and the BHF to raise awareness of spontaneous coronary artery dissection and heart failure. Watch her story here.

Bronnach is one of three finalists for the Influencing Award in the North.

Rebecca, Chair of Beat SCAD, is a finalist for the Midlands Innovation Award. Following a SCAD heart attack in 2012 she found other survivors online and persuaded her consultant Dr David Adlam to start researching the condition. In November 2015 she co-founded Beat SCAD to further the aims of raising awareness, supporting patients, family and friends and raising money for research. See more about the road to research here and more about the research study here.

Rebecca said: “What a wonderful surprise to be nominated for a British Heart Foundation Heart Hero Award. I am truly honoured to be shortlisted for the final three in the Innovation category for the Midlands!

“Thinking back to 2012, it was such a shock when I had a heart attack at age 34. To be told it was a rare kind of heart attack and the cause was unknown just added further distress. As I found other survivors of spontaneous coronary artery dissection online, I soon started to appreciate how lucky I was to be part of an incredible patient community and I knew exactly what needed to be done: find the answers about SCAD!”

She continued: “The BHF are tremendously supportive of our mission for answers: providing funding for the SCAD research project in Leicester, creating SCAD information materials and videos, sharing patient stories.

“It would be fantastic to be presented with a Heart Hero Award… fingers crossed!”

The winners will be announced at the BHF Supporter Conferences in Leeds (5 July) and Birmingham (29 June). Beat SCAD wishes both Bronnach and Rebecca the best of luck.

Beat SCAD and LCBRU collaborate on film for NIHR New Media Competition

NIHR competition entry 2016

Beat SCAD and the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit have collaborated on a video entry for the National Institute for Health Research’s New Media Competition. The theme of the competition was raising awareness of research.

The competition was looking for entries that explain why the research is important and there is a special prize for the film that shows how public involvement has been embedded into a research project and how it made a difference.

The UK SCAD research project was initiated by one patient who overcame one of the main barriers to researching rare conditions – a lack of patients. Rebecca Breslin (Chair Trustee of Beat SCAD) made contact with other UK patients and persuaded Dr David Adlam to begin a research project. At the time Rebecca was in touch with around 30 UK patients; four years later, 450 have signed up to take part in the research.

“There are thousands of rare diseases and millions of people living with conditions which have many unanswered questions; conditions which desperately need research to save and change lives. More and more patients are taking action to find answers about their rare disease and I hope our film demonstrates the positive impact patients can have on research and what can be achieved by incorporating PPIE,” said Rebecca.

“At the start, I experienced some ‘eye-rolling’ from doctors when I pulled out my stack of highlighted journal articles and lists of questions, but I refused to let them dissuade me, I just thought ‘OK, you’re not the right person to help the SCAD group… I’ll find somebody who will’ and, thankfully, the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular BRU said Yes!”

The patient group has been involved from the start, helping to shape the website content, creating leaflets for both patients and medical professionals, as well as attending events. And some of the research team attended Beat SCAD’s first UK conference for SCAD patients, families and friends.

“The SCAD study has shown us the magic of Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in action. The work of Becks and the SCAD survivors is already informing our PPIE approach on other studies,” said Tatty Scott, Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit’s PPIE Manager.

The public will help choose the competition shortlist at three screening events in York, Sheffield and Teignmouth (see here for details).

You can view all the entries here.