Leading Leicester cardiologists nominated for British Heart Foundation Heart Hero award

Two leading Leicester doctors who have put their “heart and soul” into pioneering medical research have been nominated for a top regional award later this year.

Dr David Adlam and Dr Abi Al-Hussaini have been shortlisted for a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Heart Health Professional Award for their pioneering work into Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), an under-diagnosed heart condition.

Much of their work has been carried out at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and in partnership with the NIHR Rare Diseases Translational Research Collaboration (NIHR RD-TRC) which is now part of the NIHR BioResource for Translational Research in Common and Rare Diseases.

Dr Adlam, who is Associate Professor in Acute and Interventional Cardiology at the University of Leicester and a Cardiologist at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “It is a great honour for Dr Al-Hussaini and I to be nominated on behalf of the SCAD research team and our patients.

“We are grateful to the BHF and the NIHR RD-TRC for funding our research and for the support of colleagues and SCAD-survivors in Leicester and around the UK without whom we would not have been able to progress our research. There is still much to do and this nomination will motivate us to redouble our efforts to better understand SCAD.”

Dr Adlam was behind the UK’s first Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) research programme, which is an uncommon and often under diagnosed type of heart attack that predominately affects young women and can sometimes occur during pregnancy.

During an attack, a sudden tear occurs within the layers of one or more arteries to the heart. This tear blocks blood flow and causes a heart attack. Unfortunately, SCAD may also lead to cardiac arrest and sometimes death.

Dr Adlam added: “We’re doing all we can to find out more about why SCADs occur and how we can prevent and treat them. This condition often affects young, otherwise fit people with no history of heart disease. It is crucial that we better understand how to treat our patients and prevent recurrence”.

Dr Abi Al-Hussaini, clinical research fellow at the NIHR Leicester BRC, said: “To have even been nominated for a Heart Hero award is a huge honour and I certainly feel very privileged to have been recognised in this way alongside Dr David Adlam.

“We thank our dedicated patients who have been the heroes and have supported us all the way. This award really is for them. SCAD is a condition which is very close to my heart and I am committed to finding out as much as we can about why it occurs and if there is anything that people can do to avoid an attack.”

The BHF’s Heart Hero awards recognise and celebrate the charity supporters, fundraisers, volunteers and partners who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for every heartbeat.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation said: “Both Dr Al-Hussaini and Dr Adlam are perfect examples of the extraordinary contribution made by heart health professionals. It is through BHF donations that we are able to help fund their heart research.

“For over 50 years we’ve pioneered research that has transformed the lives of millions of people living with heart disease. But heart and circulatory disease still kills more than one in four people in the UK, stealing them away from their families and loved ones.”

Rebecca Breslin, who runs the charity Beat SCAD and has worked closely with both Dr Adlam and Dr Al-Hussaini, said: “I am so pleased both David and Abi have been recognised. It’s quite fitting they have been recognised for a heart award as they’ve definitely put their heart and soul into their work.

“They both deserve the award for their patience, dedication and understanding that every SCAD survivor is an individual. Together they form an incredible team who have done wonderful things for the SCAD community.”