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11 February 2020

Bristol Heart Institute patients and staff star in feature-length documentary


The work of the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI) and its specialist staff are being highlighted in a 90 minute film, bringing to life the impact of cardiovascular disease on patients and their families.

'Deep in the Heart' follows the story of four patients, who were filmed over several months in 2018 at the BHI and at home, coming to terms with the realisation that their lives could be cut short unless they change their lifestyle.

Staff from across the hospital are shown diligently caring for and treating these patients, as well as therapists providing post-operative rehabilitation at home.

The film, produced by Rockhopper Media, challenges the audience to think about the choices they make and what happens to someone once they've experienced a health scare.

Deep in the Heart - Franco

Franco Ciulli, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, operated on two of the patients in the film. He said:

"It is a privilege to be a surgeon in this profession, and to have sick patients put their lives literally in our hands.

"The most satisfying reward for me is to send patients back to their loved ones in the knowledge that we have restored some longevity and quality of life to them.

"Being given the possibility to show the work we do on a day-to-day basis was a wonderful opportunity for all our team.

"It was an experience in itself to be followed at work and particularly into the operating theatres; however the most extraordinary part for me was seeing the patients back with their families.

"The film is able to not only draw out the personality of everyone involved, but it does so while weaving in those all important messages about looking after your heart."

Deep in the Heart - Stephen

Stephen Dorman, a consultant cardiologist who was featured treating one of the patients who was admitted through the hospital's chest pain clinic, said:

"Taking part in the filming for Deep in the Heart turned out to be a real privilege and an education.

"The production team had a real passion for telling the patients' stories and captured them beautifully, filming with them after treatment and allowing us to see them in a way we never usually get to as clinicians.

"In confronting their own mortality, patients with heart disease often gain a fresh perspective on what matters in life.

"While our medical interventions are effective they are complimentary to a more active or healthy lifestyle, and not an alternative to it.

"The hard work begins when the operation or procedure is finished, and we want to support our patients to make whatever changes they feel able to."

Deep in the Heart - Pat

Pat, one of the patients which the film follows, was in hospital for 19 months after suffering a stroke. We see her rehabilitating at home with a personal trainer and coming to terms with life after a serious illness.

"Rehabilitation takes years, with small changes making a massive difference. My goal when I came home was to be able to walk to the shops independently, no matter how long it took.

"It was a lesson in resilience, and I was determined to do it, but it was hard to say if or when I'd reach my goal.

"Luckily I was able to achieve it, and have done so many times since, but I'm still seeing improvements and am so grateful for all the help I've had.

"Being part of the film was very interesting and I was pleased to do it, as I hope it helps other people going through the same thing. As long as you put the effort in, and find the right support, you can make it."

Deep in the Heart poster

Richard Wilson, executive producer at Rockhopper Media, said:

"Thanks to the incredible support and patience of the Bristol Heart Institute, we've been able to capture the moment of truth we have all imagined with dread, when a consultant tells us that the tests and scans have revealed an urgent need for life-saving treatment.

"Almost everyone knows that smoking, alcohol, drugs, inactivity and excess sugar can hugely increase the likelihood of heart disease, but what do we do about it?

"In various ways, all of the patients featured gradually woke up, literally and metaphorically, to face the reality of the damage they have done and the second chance they had to get their life back in balance."

Deep in the Heart is available to buy or rent from 11th February.