British Heart Foundation awards grant to help unique POTS research

Researchers from Coventry University and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW NHS Trust) are working together to help people who suffer from a condition that causes dizziness when they stand up.

The research team has received a grant of £190,000 from the British Heart Foundation for a project investigating Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS).

The condition is thought to affect millions of people worldwide, mainly women between the age of 13 and 50 but it can take many years to be diagnosed. People with PoTS experience a very large rise in heart rate when they stand up, associated with extremely debilitating symptoms including palpitations, dizziness, fainting and long-lasting fatigue. It can seriously affect everyday quality of life, meaning some people are unable to attend education or work, and to date there has been little research into effective treatments.

The Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Exercise (PulSE) project aims to find out if people with PoTS are able to complete a 12-week supervised exercise programme.  The programme has been developed by people with PoTS, in collaboration with teams from Coventry University, UHCW NHS Trust, University of Warwick, University College London and the national charity PoTS UK. People will be asked to come to a NHS rehabilitation gym twice a week to be supervised by professionals whilst undertaking a variety of specially adapted physical activities that can be performed whilst keeping PoTS symptoms to a minimum.

To find out if the programme is a success, participants will be interviewed to see if they feel better, and their fitness, symptoms and quality of life will be measured with a range of different assessments and questionnaires.

Dr Gordon McGregor, Chief Investigator and Clinical Academic Exercise Physiologist at UHCW NHS Trust, said: “People with many different heart and lung conditions benefit from rehabilitation programmes. They can improve their symptoms, fitness, quality of life, anxiety and depression.

“We are hopeful that these programmes will also help people with PoTS who have very few treatment options available. We are delighted to have secured the money for this project from the British Heart Foundation. Historically PoTS has not attracted much funding.

“This is the first step in developing lifestyle programmes that can help improve the lives of people with PoTS. People with PoTS have been involved right from the start and have been instrumental in designing the programme.”

Kiran Patel, Chief Medical Officer at UHCW NHS Trust, added: “The health and wellbeing of the people we serve, as well as the services we provide, can be significantly improved by developing our extensive research evidence base. This funding is fantastic news and is a reflection of the cutting edge research work undertaken by the Trust and its partners into better treatments and models of care. “

Lesley Kavi, trustee and chair of PoTS UK said: “I am delighted to receive the news that the bid for this research grant has been successful.  Little research has been undertaken in the UK into management of PoTS. Patients typically find it difficult to exercise, and crucially in this project, patients and their representatives have been a key part in both the development of the application and the lifestyle programme itself.”

The research is inviting participants with confirmed PoTS at its centres in Coventry and London. For more information please contact gita.devi@coventry.ac.uk.


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