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2 November 2020

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals win Team of the Year at UK Heart Rhythm conference

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s cardiac rhythm management team have won the Excellence in Practice Team of the Year award at the A-A Heart Rhythm Congress 2020, the UK’s biggest arrhythmia specialist event.

The award was given in recognition of a breakthrough study run in collaboration with the Trust’s cardiac community rehabilitation team which has improved physical fitness and reduced anxiety and depression in patients who have atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common heart rhythm disturbances, resulting in a fast and irregular heartbeat. It is most commonly seen in older people and those who suffer with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

If not managed well, atrial fibrillation can lead to other problems like stroke and heart failure with high rates of hospitalisation

Around 40% of patients cared for by Sheffield’s specialist cardiac rhythm management team suffer with atrial fibrillation.

During the study patients attended exercise sessions twice per week, one session in the gym and one circuit-based exercise, as well as accessing a structured physical activity and education programme for a period of six weeks. In order to examine the effects of cardiac rehabilitation on exercise capacity and psychological well-being, patients were assessed at the start of the programme and asked to perform a ‘gold standard’ six-minute walk test to assess how far they could walk. This test is a good measure of their individual levels of aerobic capacity and endurance. Patients were also asked to complete a questionnaire about their levels of anxiety and depression. The tests were then repeated at the end of the programme.

Nearly half of the patients invited onto the programme completed the course, with remarkable improvements seen in how far patients could walk in the six-minute walk test. Anxiety and depression levels also decreased.

In addition, the team identified a number of barriers to completing cardiac rehabilitation, including severe obesity, higher anxiety and depression levels, and lower initial exercise capacity. They now plan to focus on these barriers in order to develop a more comprehensive management programme, which incorporates cardiovascular risk factors management alongside cardiac rehabilitation as an integral part of the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Dr Andreas Kyriacou, Consultant Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This accolade is fitting recognition of the excellent collaboration between the specialist doctors and nurses within our hospital and community nursing teams to support the psychological and physiological well-being of our patients through lifestyle modification and prevention strategies. The results of our study are hugely encouraging, and we hope to build on this in the future.”

Rt Hon Richard Caborn, who served as minister for sport from 2001 to 2007 and has atrial fibrillation, agreed that exercise is key to maintaining good health in those who have an irregular heartbeat: “I’ve always exercised frequently, but there’s no doubt that after treatment and medication, physical activity and regular exercise has been absolutely fundamental in helping me make a full recovery. I’m 77, still working, and with medication and continued exercise, enjoy a good quality of life.

“I was privileged to join Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ cardiac rhythm management team at the House of Commons earlier this year, and this award is excellent recognition of the leading work they are doing in this field.”

The A-A Heart Rhythm Congress 2020 is held annually and brings together world-leading experts interested in the management of arrhythmias.


Photo: Dr Andreas Kyriacou (top left) with members of the cardiac rhythm management team outside the Chesterman Wing at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield


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