Study hopes to encourage active lifestyles among heart patients

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A study that aims to keep coronary heart disease patients engaged in cardiac rehabilitation for longer, and therefore improve health outcomes, has received a funding grant in excess of £100,000.

Researchers at Ulster University are seeking to change patients’ behaviour and encourage them to stay active both during and after their rehabilitation. It suggested that, without support, patients would stop exercising.

Patients in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programmes in Belfast who wish to take part in the study will be split into two groups – one that receives the standard CR programme and another that receives additional sessions, has activity levels tracked and receives support to encourage active lifestyles.

After six months the researchers will analyse the difference in physical activity between the two groups.

Lead researcher Dr Nicole Blackburn said: “Exercise and lifestyle changes play a massive role in reducing the risk of heart disease, and it is vital that patients undergo cardiac rehabilitation after surgery or heart-related illness.

“We hope that this project will help to inspire people to continue with their CR, and also help to change attitudes towards how important this kind of care can be.

“Increased use of CR will not only help to improve patients’ quality of life, but help to reduce the strain on our health service by preventing the need for further medical intervention.”

The project has secured £103,996 in funding from Heart Research UK. The charity’s chief executive, Kate Bratt-Farrar, said it has the potential to “drastically improve the lives of patients recovering from a heart-related illness.”

According to a study conducted by healthcare charity Picker Institute Europe more than half of people with a heart or circulatory condition have felt depressed or anxious, with 45% of those who had expressed feelings for depression reporting a high or moderate need for help.

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