September 26, 2023
David Seaman and British Heart Foundation highlight hidden heart conditions.
Football legend David Seaman MBE and over 200 supporters came together for a new British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaign shining a spotlight on hidden heart conditions and their impact on the nation every day.
One hundred and eighty seats creating a giant heart were left empty in a crowded stand at Crystal Palace F.C. in London, to represent the number of lives lost in the UK to coronary heart disease each day (one every eight minutes).
Former England goalkeeper David Seaman, who lives with a heart condition, was at the centre of the striking image to support the British Heart Foundation’s Spotlight On campaign, raising awareness of hidden heart conditions ahead of World Heart Day on Friday 29 September.
A new poll commissioned by the BHF* shows that over a third (36%) of Brits surveyed were unaware that coronary heart disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, is one of the top three causes of death in the UK. The poll also revealed nearly a quarter of Brits (23%) didn’t know that you can have a heart condition without experiencing any physical symptoms.
The BHF says at least 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart or circulatory disease and that these conditions cause a quarter of all deaths. The leading heart charity says heart diseases can affect any one at any age and many conditions can often go undiagnosed for too long, until something goes wrong or it’s too late.
The charity’s latest campaign aims to shine a spotlight on hidden heart conditions, as well as raising funds for lifesaving research that could help save and improve millions of lives.
The data also revealed that, although 88% of Brits worry about their risk of developing a heart condition, 85% of people surveyed, when presented with a list of lifestyle factors, were unable to identify all the factors that can lead to heart disease, which included smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.
More concerning was that nearly a quarter of those polled (23%) also consider talking about serious medical conditions such as heart disease a taboo topic – citing the reasons it can make for an uncomfortable conversation (40%), not wanting to hear something that would worry them (35%) and not wanting to offend or worry anyone (32%).
David Seaman MBE is an Ambassador for the British Heart Foundation and is encouraging people to educate themselves about hidden heart conditions. The charity’s Spotlight On campaign is urging people to share their stories of living with heart disease and to raise funds for lifesaving research through donating or fundraising via its JustGiving site.
Seaman, who lives with an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation said; “Heart disease is one of the world’s biggest killers and the worst thing is that you often don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late. Over 200 people have given their time to support this campaign, with each empty seat representing a lost fan, a lost heart, an unfinished ending – it’s been a very poignant moment to be part of. For the football community and beyond, the British Heart Foundation’s lifesaving research offers hope to those impacted by heart disease. By shining a spotlight on heart disease this September, we can bring hidden heart conditions into focus and fund research breakthroughs to prevent more families living with that gaping hole left by the loss of a loved one.”
David Seaman also talked to supporters who took part and had been directly impacted by hidden heart conditions during the day in September 2023.
Social media content creator, Casey Barker from Brighton, 28, said: “I wanted to get involved and help raise awareness as I had a heart attack 9 months ago, which came as a real shock. Initially when I turned up at the hospital, no one could believe I was having a heart attack at the age of 27. I wanted to get involved with this to help raise awareness of just how huge the impact of heart conditions can be and support the British Heart Foundation work towards a different ending for people affected by these conditions.”
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of British Heart Foundation, said: “This striking image of a heart shaped hole illustrates the tragic loss felt by families across the UK each day due to coronary heart disease. The lives of our loved ones are often taken too soon by hidden heart conditions, and this needs to change. That’s why we’re putting a spotlight on these conditions to raise their profile and fund ground-breaking research that could save and improve more lives. We urgently need more support and whatever you can give, it’s all going towards turning the tables on heart disease for good.”
For information about hidden heart conditions and to donate to the Spotlight On campaign, visit the British Heart Foundation’s website: spotlighton.bhf.org.uk