Help Me! I'm suffering

BHF Policy Statement

At the British Heart Foundation, we're committed to saving lives by developing better treatments and cures for heart and circulatory conditions that devastate the lives of seven million people across the UK, and hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

This research was designed to help us understand how nitrates could help prevent people getting dangerous altitude sickness, which then rapidly causes heart damage, due to excess red blood cell production. It was not designed to understand how to prevent heart damage in patients with cardiovascular disease, though the results are likely to be relevant.

Researchers first conducted studies in human volunteers, testing them at high altitude at Everest base camp and in low oxygen chambers. These studies have shown that low oxygen levels lead to poor heart function, which can be measured non-invasively. However, in order to understand the processes which were taking place at a molecular level, and find ways to restore heart function, the researchers had to study animals. This research would not be ethically possible in humans.

By carrying out research in rats acclimatised to breathing low levels of oxygen, mimicking high altitude, the researchers discovered the precise molecular changes that occur in low oxygen heart tissue and found that nitrates can have a protective effect and rescue oxygen levels in the heart. These findings are likely to be relevant not only to altitude sickness, but also to patients with chronic heart failure.

We only fund research involving animals when there are no alternatives available and when the research is likely to lead to patient benefit, as was the case for this piece of research. We reduce the number of animals used wherever possible and we are committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare.

Conducting research involving animals is not a decision which we take lightly, but the majority of life saving treatments available to heart patients today were developed using animal research. Currently there are no alternatives which can reproduce the complicated workings of our hearts and circulatory systems and, as such, animal research continues to be essential to allow us to make more lifesaving breakthroughs in the future.

Yours sincerely

Simon Gillespie

Chief Executive

The alternatives are out there if you can be bothered to look. There is no excuse for exploiting animals:

New Scientist - Virtual hearts get to the crux of sudden cardiac death

Fraunhofer - Mini synthetic organism instead of test animals

Dr Hadwen - UK's leading non-animal medical research charity

Dear Mr Gillespie

Your response leaves a lot to be desired.

In the first place altitude sickness is not a critical condition,certainly not worth the life or suffering of a rat.

It is not even a disease anyone is likely to have,since it is only the fault of those who find themselves at altitude which is either through flying a plane or climbing a mountain,in which case it is their own fault.

"the researchers had to study animals. This research would not be ethically possible in humans."

That is just the point,the animals are scapegoats to bypass the ethical laws that apply to humans. If there is ethical objection for a human,so should there be for an animal. An animal is NOT a lesser being deserving of lesser consideration.

"Conducting research involving animals is not a decision which we take lightly,"

Clearly this is complete and utter codswallop. This research is completely unfounded and unnecessary. All animal testing is based upon the faulty premise that animals are good models for human bodies and that they are lesser beings.

As someone happened to mention to me online, the compound NaCl or common salt will kill a slug -whereas human beings need it. In a number of cases animals are NOT good models for the workings of a human being and animal testing is therefore misleading.

Where they maybe similar workings of the organs,this in principle entitles them to the same ethical considerations because they might be considered to be 'so much like us'.

It is also rubbish to say there are no alternatives. There are computer models that simulate the working heart. It might not be that there is a model of the particular case of this research,but if that IS the case,all the more reason NOT to use an animal.

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There will come a time when the exploitation of animals will be seen as ridiculous and anachronistic as the exploitation of African slaves was in previous centuries. It is a backward and unethical position that is capable of supplying false information. The case of Thalidomide is a case in point. There were no ill effects in rabbits but devastating consequences for human beings.


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" the majority of life saving treatments available to heart patients today were developed using animal research "

If so then the developers should hang their heads in shame,and mourn for the suffering and death they have instigated merely to maintain the lives of human beings that might have otherwise died. Considering we have a glut of human beings that are wreaking havoc across the planet and devastating animal environments,one might suggest we could well have done without those human beings.

The sickening attempt at a justification that presumes human beings to be more important than the animals exploited as 'test beds' or 'laboratories' is as depraved as the Nazi use of Jews. These creatures are not 'things' to be used for any given purpose,they are individuals with lives and feelings,and anyone not seeing this is an inhuman psychopath who ought to be used for the very experiments they inflict on defenseless creatures.

The lame attitude in your response means the BHF will NEVER receive any support from me, and I will use all that is in my power to stop the BHF from exploiting animals as objects and denying them their liberty as thinking feeling beings.

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