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New Heart Research Unit for York

Posted on 14 April 2003

A new research unit, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), is being launched at the University of York this week (Thursday April 17th) to help improve the quality of rehabilitation treatment for cardiac patients.

Only about one-third of patients who had had a heart attack receive cardiac rehabilitation, and a recent review at the University of York discovered overwhelming support for the idea that it can prolong life and provide a better quality of life - attending rehabilitation programmes reduces early death by 25 per cent. However, several groups of people are less likely to receive this help: the elderly, women, ethnic minorities and those who live in the countryside. The depressed, people on lower incomes, and smokers are also thought to be missing out.

The new research unit will cement a long-standing relationship established by Professor Bob Lewin between the University and the Foundation.

Professor Lewin, who will head up the unit based in the Department of Health Sciences, is Professor of Rehabilitation at the University and his research focuses on designing and evaluating rehabilitation methods for people with heart problems. He has produced the York Angina Plan, to be used in GP surgeries immediately angina has been diagnosed; the Angina Management Programme, a programme for patients with chest pain but normal coronary arteries; and the Heart Manual.

The unit, to be known as the British Heart Foundation Care and Education Research Group, has been awarded, 72,000 annually for three years by the BHF, and will focus on research and development. It will help the BHF monitor the use of its patient support groups, assess funded programmes for heart failure nurse, and evaluate innovative nursing roles which have been sponsored by the BHF. It will also play a major role in research intelligence, drawing upon the wide range of health-related resources at York to keep BHF cardiac care and education departments and health managers who are responsible for cardiac services, up-to-date with new evidence.

Staff will also maintain the BHF cardiac rehabilitation online register for professionals and the public, and hold an annual conference at York.This year's, on Thursday (17th April) is already fully booked with 360 delegates.

Professor Lewin and his colleagues have worked closely on joint projects and consultancy with the BHF over the last seven years, formerly at Hull and now at York, and the new Unit will provide a framework for this close relationship.

The 4th York Cardiac Care and Rehabilitation Conference will be held on Thursday 17 April 2003 at the Central Hall, University of York.

Notes to editors:

The conference features seven eminent speakers discussing whether cardiac rehabilitation can work and whether it is working. They are:

  • Dr Rod Taylor: senior lecturer in public health and epidemiology, University of Birmingham
    Presents findings of the newly-update Cochrane review of cardiac rehabilitation
  • Dr Hugh Bethell: Co-founder and first president of the BACR
    Has questioned whether CR programmes are achieving their aims
  • Dr Hayes Dalal: One of the CHD leads for the central Cornwall primary care trust
    Presents data showing how a scheme in Cornwall is meeting NSF targets
  • Ms Maree Barnett: Nursing adviser to the Department of Heath Heart Team
    What are the successess and failures; how can CR tap into 'new money'.
  • Dr Tim Bowker: BHF'S Associate Medical Director and senior lecturer in cardiac medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College
    How does the BHF view CR now that it has gone 'mainstream'.