A University of Leicester research project has received vital philanthropic funding for the second year from two Masonic charities.
The Masonic Samaritan Fund and Freemasons' Grand Charity have donated a combined sum of £33,000 to the DREAM (Daily Remote Ischaemic Conditioning Post-Acute Myocardial Infarction) research study, a randomised controlled trial currently being run in patients' homes across Leicestershire.
Michael Turnbull, a member of the University Development Board and a prominent Leicestershire Freemason, said: "This second exciting grant from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund will fund the continuation of important research into heart disease at the new University of Leicester British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Centre at Glenfield Hospital.
"It is further evidence of the broad support given by Freemasons toward medical research throughout the country. Supporting the DREAM study is something in which we can all take great pride."
Recently, a natural protective mechanism has been identified that can reduce the amount of damage from a heart attack. If the blood supply in a person's arm or leg is interrupted temporarily, the body releases chemicals that can "condition" the heart to protect it during a heart attack and the subsequent effort to restore the flow of blood. This is called remote ischemic conditioning (RIC).
In the DREAM trial, researchers from the University of Leicester are undertaking a simple and pragmatic randomised clinical trial to gather preliminary evidence that RIC, applied daily for 28 days to patients who have sustained significant damage to the heart after a heart attack, results in significant improvement in their heart function compared with patients who have not had this treatment.
Professor Nilesh Samani, Head of the University of Leicester's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and lead investigator on the project, said: "Heart attacks are the commonest cause of death in the UK. While there have been substantial advances in the treatment of heart attacks, many patients still experience severe damage to the heart and are left with heart failure, where the heart does not pump blood adequately for the needs of the body, resulting in symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue.
"The funding we have received from the Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund will allow the DREAM trial to continue to investigate whether a simple treatment that can be easily applied can improve heart function during recovery after a heart attack."
Worldwide around 7.2 million people suffer a heart attack every year and about 124,000 of these are in the UK. Evidence indicates that coronary artery disease, including heart attacks, accounts for 52% of all heart failure sufferers under the age of 75.
The study is being undertaken by the DREAM project research team led by Dr Andrew Vanezis based at the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, under the direction of Professor Samani.
John Peberdy, Chairman of the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, said: "The Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland have also been pleased to provide £50,000 in funding for several specific pieces of specialist equipment for the new Cardiovascular Research Centre."