OXFORD academics are leading the fight against cardiovascular disease which kills hundreds in the city each year.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) revealed the disease blights the lives of 12,000 Oxford residents killing 260 each year from conditions like heart attacks and strokes.
It has spent £60m on 80 University of Oxford projects which have helped to halve premature cardiovascular disease deaths in the under 75s over the past 20 years.
But the charity announced it will spend at least £5m on research over the next five years to cut premature deaths by a quarter by 2025.
Heart attack survivor Maggie Jones, from Pether Road, Wood Farm, Oxford, welcomed the news but said more needed to be done to help people recognise their symptoms.
In 1999 the 75-year-old assistant manager of the BHF shop in Headington’s London Road suffered chest pains which she thought was indigestion.
It was only after she had a heart scan at the Nuffield Hospital where she then worked that doctors found she suffered a 14-hour heart attack.
She said: “The problem is it just jumps on you and people don’t understand the risks.
“That’s how easy it is because I just thought it was indigestion.
“But rather than grin and bear it if something’s wrong they have to get it checked out.
“The crucial signs are the niggling pains in the chest which people ignore, or I did anyway to my detriment.”
The charity said cardiovascular disease affects 63,000 Oxfordshire residents, killing 1,400 each year. It is also responsible for a quarter of all deaths nationally.
Prof Hugh Watkins, below, director of BHF Centre of Research Excellence at Oxford University, is leading a major study to identify genes which increase coronary heart disease.
He said: “Cardiovascular disease affects far too many people.
“But through our research we hope to find out the fundamental causes of disease and reduce the number of people affected.
“We’re determined to give people better chances of survival, not only in Oxford but across the whole of the UK.”
The investment is part of the BHF’s strategy to 2020 called We Fight For Every Heartbeat.
It is hoped this will cut how long it takes to turn research discoveries into life-saving medical treatment.
The charity’s chief executive, Simon Gillespie, said 70 per cent of heart attack victims now survive thanks to medical advances.
He added: “But these figures are a stark reminder that far too many people in Oxford have to live with cardiovascular disease.
“There is still so much more we need to do.”
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11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
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