University of Leicester to develop new test to identify patients at risk of sudden cardiac death

Heart charity funds research into new life-saving test

LEICESTER, 01-Apr-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — A new test to identify patients at risk of sudden cardiac death is being developed by researchers at the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals thanks to a £183,000 grant from national charity Heart Research UK.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is responsible for over three million deaths a year worldwide and is frequently caused by lethal heart rhythm disturbances.

Researchers at the University of Leicester will carry out tests among patients across the UK to see which of those at risk of SCD would benefit from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that delivers a shock to the heart when the rhythm becomes erratic and will potentially save lives.

The research will also investigate if ICDs are currently being given to the patients who need them. The aim of the project is to develop a simple and cost-effective electrocardiogram (ECG)-based test which can more accurately identify people who need ICDs.

Professor Andre Ng, from the University of Leicester, who is leading the team based at Glenfield Hospital, said the research was ultimately aimed at developing technology that can more accurately predict sudden cardiac death in patients and save lives by directing the most appropriate treatment to them.

The ECG is a simple everyday test performed to record the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart, and Professor Ng’s team has developed two new tests based on the ECG, for measuring the risk of SCD.

“Whilst these deaths could be prevented with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), assessing exactly who might benefit from these expensive devices remains challenging,” said Prof Ng.  “We are extremely pleased to have been given this grant from Heart Research UK as it allows us to springboard the work which we have been doing for the past few years to the next level.”

The study will follow 440 patients from 11 of the leading specialist cardiac centres across the UK and will involve an extra test performed on the heart when an ICD is implanted.  Patients will be followed-up over 18 months and their cardiac risk scores compared with how often abnormal heart rhythms occur during an 18-month follow-up period.

Leicester heart patient Roy Linnitt had a defibrillator fitted after doctors detected a weakness in his heart which could have led to it suddenly stopping.  Said Roy, 79, of Shanklin Drive, Leicester:  “Having received the defibrillator and all of my other treatment, I now feel a lot better and more importantly I know that in the event of something abnormal happening to my heart I have a defibrillator that can regulate my heart rate and if necessary give my heart a jolt.”

He said he often went out for long walks with his wife and the defibrillator has taken away any anxiousness about things suddenly going wrong.  He’s taking part in Professor Ng’s research and added:  “I feel it is important that we as patients give something back to the thousands of nurses and doctors who work hard to keep us healthy and rely on research to improve treatments and help other patients in the future.”

Barbara Harpham, national director of Heart Research UK, said: “This developing research from the Leicester team could have real benefits in predicting who could be susceptible to sudden cardiac death.  We aim, with the research we fund, to have a postive impact on patients as soon as possible, helping them to live healthier, happier and longer lives.”

For further information please contact Chris Child on 0113 297 6207

You can also follow Heart Research UK on our website: www.heartresearch.org.uk; Twitter: @heartresearchuk or become a fan of our Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heart-Research-UK/10733061906

Notes to editors

Heart Research UK

Heart Research UK is a visionary charity that has been helping hearts near you since 1967.  It continues to fund ground-breaking research with the aim of having an immediate, positive impact on patients living with heart disease. Over the last 10 years the charity has funded over £10.6m on research in hospitals and universities across the UK as well as £1.2m on innovative community-based lifestyle projects that help people live healthier, happier and longer lives.  What’s raised locally is spent locally.

You can also follow Heart Research UK on Twitter: @heartresearchuk or become a fan of our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heart-Research-UK/10733061906

Leicester’s Hospitals

The Cardiovascular Research Centre is an alliance between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (Leicester’s Hospitals) and the University of Leicester.

Leicester’s Hospitals are one of the biggest and busiest NHS Trusts in the country,serving the one million residents of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Our internationally-renowned research, treatment and services in cardio-respiratory diseases, cancer and renal disorders reach a further two to three million patients from the rest of the country. http://www.leicestershospitals.nhs.uk/

The University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. The University of Leicester is ranked among the top one per cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings and also among the top 100 leading international universities in the world. It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment.

Find out more: https://le.ac.uk/about-us

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