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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 10:57 GMT
Lottery helps out heart patients
Rehab helps give heart attack patients a better quality of life
A UK lottery has granted 4.7 million towards helping people recover from heart attacks or surgery.

The National Opportunities Fund is funding the development of 40 new cardiac rehabilitation centres, through the British Heart Foundation.

Studies have shown rehab to reduce the risk of further attacks in heart patients by almost a third.

Around 160,000 people have a heart attack, and 27,000 require surgery each year in the UK.

There are currently only a few centres around the UK that offer cardiac rehabilitation.

The British Heart Foundation will help set up new centres through Primary Care Trusts around the country.

Trusts have been invited to bid for grants of between 20,000 and 120,000 before June this year.

'Better quality of life'

These centres will offer programs tailored to each patient.

According to Dr Charmaine Griffiths at the British Heart Foundation, this is a major step up from programs offered by hospitals.

"In hospitals patients undergo regimented programs where they will do different exercises in weekly blocks," she told BBC News Online.

The new centres will provide patients with educational and psychological support, along with sessions in tai chi, aqua aerobics, quitting smoking and healthy cooking and eating.

People will be offered a range of programs in the new centres

Dr Griffiths said studies have shown this type of rehabilitation to be almost as good as beta blockers.

These are drugs that block the hormone adrenalin, which make the heart beat faster. Beta blockers are often used to prevent heart attacks in people who have already had them.

Baroness Jill Pitkeathley, Chair of the New Opportunities Fund said the centres would give people with heart problems a better quality of life.

"The British Heart Foundation's vision for cardiac rehabilitation puts people at the heart of the healing process and will provide greater choice when it comes to accessing services," she said.

The funding is part of 297 from the New Opportunities for Health programme that aims to reduce heart disease, cancer and stroke in England.

Professor Sir Charles, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation said it is important that people suffering heart problems receive sustained support and care to ensure they make a full recovery.

"This indivual approach can improve people's success in making necessary lifestyle changes and help them return to as full and normal a life as possible."

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