The British Heart Foundation offers a range of services to support people in keeping their heart healthy and in understanding and living with a heart condition.
The Heart Helpline is staffed by Cardiac Nurses and Information Support Officers who are available to answer enquiries by telephone or email, with phone lines open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.
The organisation also has a free membership programme, Heart Matters, for anyone who wants a heart-healthy lifestyle, whether they are a person with a heart condition, a carer or family member, or someone looking to improve their health. There are also hundreds of free publications, leaflets, DVDs and more for heart patients, their families and people who want to learn more about living healthily available to download or order online on the BHF website.
Every two months, Heart Matters members receive the Heart Matters magazine, which offers information on heart conditions and treatments, latest research, real-life stories and nutritional information about keeping your heart healthy. Members can choose to receive the magazine by post, and there is also an online magazine which can be accessed any time and features exclusive content such as expert dietary advice, and top tips on exercise. There is also an online recipe finder to help members prepare meals which support heart health.
While the Heart Helpline and Heart Matters provide information and support to people across the country to live well in ways that matter to them, British Heart Foundation also provides targeted support to enable those at greatest risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) to change behaviour and live healthier lifestyles through the Hearty Lives programme.
Hearty Lives works in some of the poorest areas of the country to reduce inequalities in heart disease through working in partnership with local authorities, the NHS and non-profit organisations to improve the health of people at greatest risk of CVD.
Since 2009, over 159,000 people have taken part in Hearty Lives activities, and in August 2013, BHF announced an additional £1.2 million of funding for projects that aim to reduce the risk of CVD for children and young people across the UK.
Examples of the ways that the programme has supported people to change behaviour and better look after their heart include:
- Funding a lifestyle coach to help residents in Barking & Dagenham improve their heart health.
- Running weight management courses for overweight children and young people in Scotland.
- Helping people with learning disabilities and their carers live healthier lifestyles in Great Yarmouth
- Running a health and fitness programme in partnership with Barnsley Football Club for local men at risk of heart disease
- Promoting smoke-free homes to prevent children and young people from taking up smoking in Blaenau Gwent in Wales.
An external national evaluation of the first three years of Hearty Lives, published in 2012, found that interventions were supporting people to become more aware of issues that affect their heart health and change lifestyles accordingly. It found clear improvements among participants in relation to key behaviours such as increasing levels of exercise, eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day, quitting smoking and/or reducing alcohol consumption. The evaluation also found that the programme had in many cases forged strong partnerships with local agencies which led to the leveraging of additional resources and expertise to provide intensive support services for those who needed them.