Heart trial helps destress Josephine

Charvil woman pioneers phone app that helps doctors

WOMEN in Berkshire are staying healthier thanks to a new heart monitor trial.

Patients visiting the Emergency Department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital were invited to take part in the programme aimed at reducing stress.

They were given a device which monitored heart palpitations with the results automatically emailed to a research team at NHS Lothian.

Local teams then notified patients and their GPs of the results and advised them to book an appointment if the palpitations required further investigation.

Dr Liza Keating, the study’s principal investigator at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The device used in IPED can help patients because it is possible that any abnormality can be detected earlier than might be the case without using it. This can also help save the NHS time and money by reducing the number of appointments patients book.

“On the whole the patients have been very keen to take part in the study. In fact because this is a randomised study half of the patients have been disappointed not to have been offered the device.”

One of the first people to take advantage of the trial was Josephine Baldock of Charvil.

The 65-year-old had reduced her hours at work and started exercising more after a portable heart monitor she was given for the study led her to conclude stress was the cause of her palpitations.

She was offered a chance to take part in the IPED study while she visited the Royal Berkshire Hospital for palpitations in July last year.

The mother-of-two said: “I was very anxious because it happened on a Sunday morning while I was in bed, just waking up.

“I wasn’t doing anything exertive at all.

“I waited for half an hour, and then it happened again.

“I just got up and thought something wasn’t quite right so I came straight into casualty at the Royal Berks.

“When they ran the tests on me, they asked if someone from cardiology could come and speak to me because there was something they were doing research-wise.

“I wanted to take part in research because I’d never experienced anything like that before. I thought if that helps to find out what it is, then it’s crazy not to.”

She was given a gadget and told to press two sensors on it with the index and middle fingers of both hands for 30 seconds when she experienced palpitations. The device was connected to a mobile phone app via bluetooth to record their ECG, which was automatically emailed to the research team at NHS Lothian, who gave the results to patients’ local research teams.

Local teams notified patients and their GPs of the results and advised them to book an appointment if the palpitations required further investigation.

Ms Baldock returned to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for a heart scan after two weeks.

It revealed no abnormalities and she realised stress was causing her palpitations.

She decided to change her hours to part-time at her registrar job at Reading Borough Council. She has since been ice skating, cycling and bought a rowing machine.

She said: “My job was quite sedentary, it was in an office and pressurised at times. We all know what stress can cause. I wasn’t aware of it, that was the scary thing.

“I swapped my life sat in an office to a different lifestyle. There’s a reason when you’re in your 60s that you should really think about how much you work. If you haven’t got your health, even if you’ve got all the money in the world, it doesn’t really matter.

“I used to exercise maybe once or twice a week because I didn’t have the time before when I was working full-time. I have made changes, and it’s all down to that Sunday morning.”

For more details, log on to The UK Clinical Trials Gateway at www.ukctg.nihr.ac.uk

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Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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