Injury time: shoot-outs and sudden death

World cup

Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick off, Dr Peter Wright explores how the stress and excitement of watching football isn’t all fun and games for our cardiovascular health.


Since time immemorial, sport has functioned as a useful substitute for direct physical conflict between, tribes, towns and nations. This year all eyes turn towards Russia, where the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup will take place. The Russian word ‘mira’ may translate as both ‘world’ and ‘peace’, but as the pre-eminent competition of humanity’s favourite sport, ‘Чемпионат мира по футболу 2018’ is likely to be anything but relaxing for the players, officials and millions of spectators worldwide. (more…)

Change of heart: will advanced therapeutics replace heart transplants?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first UK heart transplant, Professor Sian Harding looks at the future of transplantation in this post. 


Fifty years ago, history was made at the National Heart Hospital in London with the first heart transplant performed in the UK. Half a century later, transplantation continues to the be the gold standard treatment for a failing heart. However, the growing number of people on the waiting list for a new heart, coupled with the risky and complex nature of the procedure is resulting in scientists exploring alternatives to transplantation. One of these alternatives is gene therapy. (more…)

Survival of the fitness: from Ancient Greece to modern day preventive medicine

With London’s biggest running event of the year upon us, sport-expert Tim Grove gives a low down on the benefits of running for a healthy heart. 


Is physical activity good for us?

London Marathon – the biggest sporting spectacle of the year – is fast approaching. This Sunday will see over 40,000 runners take part in the gruelling 26.2-mile course starting at Blackheath and finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. The event is highly televised with elite runners, celebrities, politicians and fundraisers all taking part together. The London Marathon has gained popularity since its inception in 1981 and has raised over £450 million for charity, making it the world’s largest annual fundraising event. With its high media profile, the London Marathon certainly sparks the enthusiasm of the general public with many taking to streets in the bid to train for next year’s event or for shorter distance races. (more…)

Cracking the genetic code of cardiomyopathy in Egyptians

In the post, PhD student Mona Allouba, calls for a better understanding of the genetics of Egyptians in a bid for personalised treatments for cardiomyopathy patients


Over the past decade, several institutions in Egypt have been making huge scientific progress that is steadily reaching worldwide recognition. It is under these circumstances that I have been fortunate to join the Magdi Yacoub Foundation (MYF), which is recognised as one of Egypt’s most prominent charity organisations. The Aswan Heart Centre – located along the banks of the Nile in Aswan – is an integral part of MYF, offering state-of-the-art medical services for the underprivileged. It focuses on expanding the research on heart disease across the Middle East and beyond to contribute to the world’s scientific knowledge. (more…)

Big hearts and giant genes: What lies at the end of the yellow brick road?

Upasana Tayal was shortlisted for the MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Competition 2017 for the following article:

“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable”, said the Wizard of Oz. “But I still want one”, replied the Tin Woodsman.

Your heart makes you human, makes you love, and keeps you alive. In just one year, it will beat 40 million times, without rest or time off for good behaviour. A pretty impressive piece of machinery you might agree, no wonder the Tin Man wanted one so much.

And like many things in life, he may have wished for a big heart at the end of the yellow brick road.

He would be forgiven for imagining a big heart to be a good thing, extra caring and compassionate, and if the Tin Man was scientifically inclined, more effective at doing its job of pumping blood around the body.

Unfortunately for the 1 in 250 people in the world living life with a big heart, the reality is very different. (more…)

Understanding our achy breaky hearts

Broken heart syndrome, officially known as takotsubo syndrome, is an acute type of heart failure, where the bottom of the heart stops beating in situations of extreme stress. A condition predominantly affecting post-menopausal women, it has been dubbed broken heart syndrome owing to the frequent occurrence during bereavement after the loss of a loved one. However, this is just one example of the various circumstances in which takotsubo syndrome can occur. Indeed, any stressful event can lead to a surge in adrenaline which can result in takotsubo syndrome. This could be physical or emotional, and includes trauma such as car accidents, drug abuse, and even happy events such as weddings!

This varied list of triggers and the association with a ‘broken heart’ has attracted interest from the media. Furthermore, the specific localisation of the poorly contracting region of the heart and patient demographics are also very interesting from a research standpoint. Often when describing my PhD, the concept of a ‘broken heart’ understandably resonates with people. (more…)

World Heart Day: Building new hearts at the BHF Regenerative Medicine Centre

We are excited by the news that our BHF Regenerative Medicine Centre has been renewed for another four-year term from 1 October 2017! At Imperial we have been concentrating on the big challenge of producing new muscle for the damaged heart, along with our partners in the Universities of Nottingham, Glasgow, Hamburg and Westminster.

The heart has a very limited capacity to repair itself after a heart attack, or during the more insidious damage from high blood pressure, diabetes or chemotherapy. We have been looking at various kinds of stem cells to explore their power to become new cardiac muscle cells – one of the big successes of the current Centre. Pluripotent stem cells – those which have the capability of turning into any cell type in the body – can now be turned very efficiently into beating heart muscle in the laboratory dish, and made into strips of engineered heart tissue. Our partner, Professor Chris Denning, at the University of Nottingham has automated the process of making the cells and Professor Thomas Eschenhagen in Hamburg has contributed his technology for converting this into muscle. (more…)