A Melton heart attack survivor is in line to scoop a prestigious British Heart Foundation award in recognition of her work to raise awareness of and launch research into the rare condition which caused her attack.
Rebecca Breslin (38) has been nominated in the innovation category at the foundation’s Heart Hero Awards 2016 which recognise and celebrate exceptional contributions in the fight against heart disease.
Rebecca suffered her heart attack in March 2012 as a result of a tear to a coronary artery which blocked the flow of blood in her heart. The rare and under-diagnosed condition, which affects people with few or none of the normal risk factors for heart disease, is called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). It cannot be predicted or prevented and the cause is unknown.
Following her attack Rebecca did her own research into SCAD and found there was very little information available about it. She worked with her consultant Dr Adlam and together they built a strong funding support case to the British Heart Foundation and the National Institute for Health Research, a strategic research funding body within the NHS which supports research for the benefit of patients and the economy.
The UK’s first SCAD research programme was launched and the bid to find 100 participants started. Before the research was approved, Rebecca had to find people who were willing to take part in the study.
She said: “It was such a shock when I had a heart attack aged 34. To be told it was a rare kind of heart attack and the cause was unknown just added further distress.
“It was quite overwhelming at the start but as I found more people in the same situation as me 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, I needed to find the answers about SCAD.”
Rebecca, who last year launched the new UK patient-led charity Beat SCAD, has used national publicity, social media promotion and events to spread the word about the condition.
The charity aims to support SCAD patients and their families, raise awareness of SCAD and raise funds for research into the condition.
Rebecca added: “I’m hugely honoured to have been shortlisted for this British Heart Foundation Heart Hero prize, but without the patient group agreeing to work with me, this research would not have been possible.”
The research is being carried out at the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit at Glenfield Hospital. So far 80 people have been scanned as part of the research and a further 450 people are waiting to take part.
The unit, which is a partnership between the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop ways to help prevent and treat cardiovascular conditions.
Dr Adlam said: “The SCAD study has shown the magic of patient involvement in action. The work Rebecca and the other SCAD survivors have done is incredible and is hugely important in helping us to understand the complexity of the condition and how we can work towards treatment.”
The winners of the British Heart Foundation Heart Hero Awards will be announced on Wednesday, June 29.
For more information about the Beat SCAD charity visit http://beatscad.org.uk/