THE BRITISH Heart Foundation has toured Southampton in search of families to help understand the causes of coronary heart disease.

Travelling in a converted London bus, the BHF Family Heart Study is trying to recruit 2,000 brothers and sisters who have both had coronary heart disease before the age of 65.

The bus tour aiming to publicise the search first stopped off at the civic centre before moving to Sainsbury's in Hedge End.

The £2.5 million study is appealing for local families who have a history of heart disease to take part in pioneering research.

All they have to do is contact the helpline to see if they are suitable for the project. Then they give a small blood sample at their local GP's surgery.

The study aims to pinpoint the rogue genes which contribute to coronary heart disease.

Scientists hope that a clearer understanding of the genetic factors of heart disease will help erase the condition in the future.

Professor Alistair Hall, from the Yorkshire Heart Centre in Leeds, is travelling on the nationwide tour.

He said: "We are trying to understand more about the inherited genetic make-up of those who suffer from heart disease.

"Often it is a taboo subject and people do not like to tell their doctor about family history.

"We would like the inherited condition, which is separate from lifestyle factors, to be out in the open."

The study also marks the start of a year-long campaign called Take Heart, Take Part. This aims to educate members of the public about heart disease and encourage them to take positive health steps.

* If you meet the above criteria and would like to take part in the study, contact the foundation's Family Heart Study helpline on 0800 0527154 or look on its website at