New funding for research to examine use of blood pressure cuffs for heart failure patients with pacemakers

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John Gierula

A research project at the University of Leeds (Leeds, UK) aiming to find an easier way to establish the optimum heart rate for heart failure patients with pacemakers, has received a £200,000 grant from Heart Research UK.

According to researchers, their project could help to reduce symptoms of heart failure and enable patients to be more physically active, which would improve their lives.

Around 30% of people with heart failure will get a pacemaker implanted in the chest, which can increase the heart rate during physical activity. Echocardiography can be used to measure each person’s individual optimal heart rate and programme the pacemaker accordingly.

The new research project, led by John Gierula, will instead use blood pressure cuffs around the fingers to establish this optimum heart rate. The researchers aim to find out if this method is a valid alternative to the original heart scan method. If it is shown to be as effective, it could be incorporated within routine practice in the NHS.

Gierula said: “We are hoping this method will prove to be an accurate and cost-efficient alternative to echocardiography. Overall, the study represents a step closer to widespread personalised pacemaker programming, which has the potential to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with heart failure and pacemakers across the world.”

Kate Bratt-Farrar, chief executive at Heart Research UK, said: “We know that many patients with heart failure struggle to be physically active, even with a pacemaker implanted. That is why we are so pleased to give one of our Novel and Emerging Technologies Grants to Dr Gierula and his team. They are aiming to develop a new method for personalising pacemaker programming and improve these patients’ lives, which is ultimately what our research grants are all about.”


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