Cruel and unhelpful

Behind the pleasant imagery that we associate with the British Heart Foundation: smiling doctors, thoughtful patients, colourful shop fronts and fun runners pounding the streets, lies a dark secret: money donated in good faith is spent on sickening animal experiments, often at top name academic institutions1. A number of cruel fates await an animal unfortunate enough to be part of a BHF “research project” - they could be bred solely to have their hearts ripped out2, be poisoned3, or have a heart attack artificially induced4. No wonder they don't advertise the fact they test on animals in any of their shops or at any of their events.

On top of the major ethical issues surrounding animal research, there are serious questions about the effectiveness of animal testing. Animals are fundamentally different to us, and do not react like we do. For example, the zebrafish, often used in heart research, is able to regenerate cardiac tissue, but there the human body simply does not possess this ability5, so we will never be able to replicate this in humans. Stem cell treatments for heart failure have already failed in clinical trials following success in animal models6, and different species have different ways of clotting blood. On top of these fundamental hurdles, diseases are artificially induced into laboratory animals, distorting results even further by failing to replicate the environmental and ageing influences which cause heart disease in humans7. Instead of advancing science, animal testing is actively holding back progress in fields such as heart disease8.

And nor is research the answer to all our problems. The World Health Organisation says that most heart disease is preventable9, and even the BHF's poster child professor and vivisector Mark Kearney readily admits that public education and prevention is as equally important as research10, yet prevention and care combined takes up a mere 25% of the BHF's expenditure11.


We call upon the British Heart Foundation to end all animal experiments and to spend its research budget on humane methods of research. And the way that you can help is by boycotting their shops, and refusing to take part in or sponsor someone taking part in one of their sponsored events.

The uncomfortable reality is that if you give any money to the British Heart Foundation, you are funding animal torture and killing. You wouldn't hand your pets over to a laboratory to be tested on, so don't put your money in a BHF collection tin either.


2. Poss KD, Wilson LG, Keating MT (2002). Heart Regeneration in Zebrafish. Science. 298 (5601);298:2188-2190

3. Alders DJC, Cornelussen RN, Prinzen FW et al (2007). Regional sympathetic denervation affects the relation between local canine myocardial blood flow and oxygen consumption, Exp Physiol. 92:541-548

4. Myles RC, Burton FL, Cobbe SM et al (2011). Alternans of action potential duration and amplitude in rabbits with left ventricular dysfunction following myocardial infarction. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 50(3):510-21]

5. Jopling C, Sleep E, Raya M et al (2010). Zebrafish heart regeneration occurs by cardiomyocyte dedifferentiation and proliferation [letter]. Nature. 464:606

6. Dimmeler S, Zeiher AM, Schneider MD (2005). Unchain my heart: the scientific foundations of cardiac repair. J. Clin. Invest. 115:572-583

7. Animal research is wasteful and misleading,  By: Barnard, Neal D., Kaufman, Stephen R., Scientific American, 00368733, Feb97, Vol. 276, Issue 2

8. Animal Aid Victims of Charity report p. 17



11. BHF Annual Report & Accounts 2012/13 p.4