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Launching the UK's first research centre for Congenital Heart Defects

4 May 2016 11:00AM

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) and The Somerville Foundation, a specialist charity supporting patients with heart conditions, have partnered to establish a new state-of-the-art research centre based in Suffolk.

The first ever dedicated congenital heart research centre in the UK, and part of only a handful worldwide, will focus on finding more effective ways to treat and support individuals with congenital heart conditions.

It will utilise UCSs expertise in cardiovascular science, exercise physiology and psychology and The Somerville Foundations expertise in supporting people with the condition.

The centre will be screening members of the public as well as sportsmen and women for heart conditions such as those affecting footballer Fabrice Muamba and more recently England Cricketer James Taylor.

University Campus Suffolk will be using the same state of the art facilities to investigate congenital heart disease that will used on the new Masters Degree programme from September specialising in sports science and coaching in partnership with Ipswich Town Football Club.

Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) are the most common type of birth defect and the leading cause of infant death in the UK. 9 out of every 1000 babies being born with congenital heart disease.There are estimated to be over 250,000 adults who were born with a heart condition in the UK.

Around 15,000 patients are ticking time bombs, are lost to follow up and arent receiving the specialist support that they need.

Recent advances in medicine have improved survival rates, but many patients face physical limitations and an uncertain lifespan into their adulthood.

UCS and The Somerville Foundation hope that the research undertaken at this new centre will improve the lives of individuals with congenital heart disease and improve the cardiac screening of the young in the UK.

The centre will be researching new areas including tissue engineering.

Recently published research shows links between post-traumatic stress disorder and congenital heart disease. The team at UCS includes expert psychologists and will carry out research into congenital heart disease and mental health problems.

Work that will help patients manage their heart condition has already started, with researchers looking into the mechanisms of exercise behaviour for the betterment of cardiac function.