The Duchess of York was announced as an official British Heart Foundation Ambassador, marking the occasion by spending the morning at The William Harvey Heart Centre, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
The Duchess, who is particularly passionate about women and heart disease, spoke with British Heart Foundation (BHF) Research Fellow Dr Suchita Nadkarni from QMUL about research she is doing into pre-eclampsia, the leading cause of death worldwide for women during pregnancy.
She also met BHF Professor Federica Marelli-Berg about her research into the role of the immune system in pre-eclampsia and heart transplant rejection. This research is of particular interest to the Duchess, whose mother was previously diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
It is estimated that globally around 76,000 pregnant women die each year from pre-eclampsia and related hypertensive disorders. It is hoped that Dr Nadkarni’s research will prevent diseases like this from progressing and devastating families worldwide.
The Duchess of York said: “It’s an honour to support the work of the British Heart Foundation. I have had the privilege to speak to the BHF researchers today - Professor Federica Marelli-Berg and Dr Suchita Nadkarni - and hear about their extraordinary work as well as meeting inspirational women who have overcome great hurdles.
“I am determined to do all I can to help highlight the devastating effects of heart disease, particularly amongst women, where heart disease kills twice as many as breast cancer. This is a shocking statistic and it's vital we encourage others to support the BHF so they can continue their crucial research into this devastating condition.”
Whilst at QMUL, the Duchess of York met various women who are fighting a daily battle with heart disease. These women included Bina Ghelani and her baby Aarya. Bina was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia when she was 32 weeks pregnant with Aarya. The Duchess of York spoke openly with the women about her concerns around heart disease which tragically took the lives of close family friends Sir David Frost and Miles Frost.
Bina said: “Being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia when 32 weeks pregnant was absolutely devastating. I feel incredibly lucky that Aarya and I made a full recovery. I really hope the Duchess’ support will raise awareness of the devastation heart disease brings so other families are as lucky as we are.”
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