Football legend David Seaman launches heart disease campaign

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Football legend David Seaman and over 200 supporters came together to shine a spotlight on hidden heart conditions and their impact on the nation. The former England goalkeeper posed in front of a stand at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park ground which had 180 empty seats in the shape of a heart. This represented number of lives lost in the UK to coronary heart disease each day – one every eight minutes. Seaman, who lives with a heart condition, was at the centre of the striking image to support the British Heart Foundation’s Spotlight On campaign, raising awareness of hidden heart conditions ahead of World Heart Day this Friday (September 29). The charity is urging people to share their stories of living with heart disease and to raise funds for lifesaving research through donating or fundraising via its JustGiving site []. A poll commissioned by the charity shows over a third (36 per cent) of Brits were unaware coronary heart disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, is one of the top three causes of death in the UK. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) didn’t know you can have a heart condition without experiencing any physical symptoms. And although 88 per cent worry about their risk of developing a heart condition, 85 per cent were unable to identify all the factors which can lead to heart disease – including included smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. Concerningly, 23 per cent also consider talking about serious medical conditions such as heart disease a taboo topic. With many citing it can make for an uncomfortable conversation (40 per cent), not wanting to hear something that would worry them (35 per cent) and not wanting to offend or worry anyone (32 per cent). Seaman, who lives with an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (AF), said: “Heart disease is one of the world’s biggest killers and the worst thing is that you often don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late. “Over 200 people have given their time to support this campaign, with each empty seat representing a lost fan, a lost heart, an unfinished ending – it’s been a very poignant moment to be part of.” “For the football community and beyond, the British Heart Foundation’s lifesaving research offers hope to those impacted by heart disease. “By shining a spotlight on heart disease this September, we can bring hidden heart conditions into focus and fund research breakthroughs to prevent more families living with that gaping hole left by the loss of a loved one.” According to the British Heart Foundation, at least 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart or circulatory disease and that these conditions cause a quarter of all deaths. The heart charity says heart diseases can affect any one at any age and many conditions can often go undiagnosed for too long, until something goes wrong or it's too late. David Seaman talked to supporters who took part in the event and who had been directly impacted by hidden heart conditions, one of which was YouTuber Casey Barker. Casey said: “I wanted to get involved and help raise awareness as I had a heart attack nine months ago, which came as a real shock. “Initially when I turned up at the hospital, no one could believe I was having a heart attack at the age of 27. “I wanted to get involved with this to help raise awareness of just how huge the impact of heart conditions can be and support the British Heart Foundation work towards a different ending for people affected by these conditions.” Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of British Heart Foundation, said: “This striking image of a heart shaped hole illustrates the tragic loss felt by families across the UK each day due to coronary heart disease. “The lives of our loved ones are often taken too soon by hidden heart conditions, and this needs to change. “That’s why we're putting a spotlight on these conditions to raise their profile and fund ground-breaking research that could save and improve more lives. “We urgently need more support and whatever you can give, it’s all going towards turning the tables on heart disease for good.”