Patients James McEnhill and his mum, Pam McEnhill from Barnet were among the guests at the first HEART UK Family Support Centre’s (FSC) information event in the Royal Free’s atrium on 18 March. The Department of Health’s heart czar, Roger Boyle, was a key speaker.
James, 25, works in a gym and is the youngest of Pam’s three children. He was tested for the genetic condition familial hypercholesteroaemia (FH) at the age of nine. Pam was discovered to have high cholesterol in 1973, following her father’s early death.
FH is an inherited condition that can cause abnormally high levels of cholesterol which, if left untreated, can result in cardiovascular disease and premature death.
The pair try to exercise regularly and eat healthily, as well as taking tablets for their condition. “But this doesn’t really worry me,” says James and Pam adds: “Maybe he was diagnosed young enough for the routine to be drummed into him.” Pam’s other children tested negative for FH.
Professor Boyle said: “Over the last ten years, we’ve seen a 50% reduction in the numbers of people dying of cardiovascular disease. We’ve made lots of progress and there are some areas where we need to do more work. Inherited conditions is a key area.”
The centre’s consultant lipidologist, Dr Devi Nair spoke about the centre’s plans to reach out to people at high risk of heart disease and stroke due to raised cholesterol - including those families with FH.
She said: “Places of worship are proving a cost effective way of disseminating health promotion messages.” The Royal Free has healthy heart testing programme at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Hindu temple) in Neasden and has already screened 265 people out of the 2,000 who use the temple. The next step is to instigate lifestyle changes through things like Bollywood dancing sessions and dietary intervention.
The trust runs a similar programme with NHS Camden at the Al-Rahman Mosque in Crowndale Road and other wellbeing initiatives are being promoted throughout the hospital.
Michael Livingston, Director of HEART UK The Cholesterol Charity, the organisation behind this pioneering centre, said: “I would like to pay tribute to all the team at the London FSC, Roger Boyle for all his work as Heart Czar and both the patients attending here tonight and Dr Nair’s patients as a whole for supporting this event.”
Over 100 GPs and patients attended the event, which featured stalls and advice on healthy eating, cholesterol-lowering treatments, blood tests and much more.
The Royal Free’s FSC offers patients and their families medical, dietetic and exercise advice by appointment and at the end of a phone.
It is funded by the cholesterol charity HEART UK and two of the charity’s key partners - Cereal Partners UK (Shredded Wheat) and Unilever (Flora Pro-activ).
Members of the public can find out more about the centre and the work of HEART UK The Cholesterol Charity by either contacting Darren Harvey tel: 07533 306340; email: Darren.Harvey@royalfree.nhs.uk or Karen Brammer, Healthcare Advisor, tel: 0845 4505988 (helpline) or email: email@example.com
Notes for editors:
1) For all media enquiries please contact
Diana Butler, media consultant to HEART UK- The Cholesterol Charity
Tel: 07876 452170; email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fiona Cordy, communications officer, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust tel: 020 7830 2963; email: Fiona.email@example.com
For more information on the work of HEART UK please contact Karen Brammer, healthcare coordinator at HEART UK
tel: 01628 777046; mobile: 077875 13108; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.heartuk.org.uk
2) The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust is renowned for its specialist services including liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, renal, AIDS/HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, paediatric gastroenterology, ENT surgery and audiological medicine, amyloidosis and scleroderma. We run a major accident and emergency service, all branches of surgery and medicine, a renal service serving the whole of north London, paediatrics, maternity services, care of elderly people, an adolescent psychiatric service and one of two high security infectious diseases units in the country. We are a leading haematology centre and a major neuroscience base with a network extending throughout north London and into the Home Counties. We have associated internationally recognised research and training programmes. For more information visit www.royalfree.nhs.uk
We are a member of the academic health science partnership UCL Partners. The Royal Free was the only teaching hospital in London to be rated excellent for services and excellent for use of resources in the 2008 Healthcare Commission annual health check.