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2015 Research Awards

Two women using STARFISH, an interactive mobile phone application for stroke

STARFISH, an interactive mobile phone application

Research in progress

Cardiac biOMarkers in Patients with Aortic StenosiS (COMPASS)

  • Dr. Atul Anand and Dr. Nicholas Mills; Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
  • £118,544 over two years

Aortic stenosis, often causing chest pain and breathlessness, is a common narrowing of a heart valve, but there are complex issues surrounding how best to treat it. While valve replacement is possible, major heart surgery carries greater risk in older patients –and deciding if and when to operate is often difficult. The researchers have already shown that blood levels of a heart protein called troponin are higher in those with worse outcomes.They are now following a group of older patients with aortic stenosis over 18 months, regularly measuring troponin levels. By comparing this with symptoms and heart scans, they will see if a simple blood test can predict deterioration from aortic stenosis which would in turn allow medical teams to reach more informed decisions over potential surgery.

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Profiling of extra-cellular vesicle microRNAs to identify novel cardiac injury biomarkers

  • Dr. James Dear, Dr. P. Henrikson and Dr. M. Bailey, University of Edinburgh
  • £81,567 over one year

Currently, diagnosis of a heart attack requires a blood test taken 12 hours after the onset of chest pain.  The researchers will investigate new markers found in the blood, microRNAs, to identify those that may diagnose heart attacks more rapidly, and therefore improve patient care.  To achieve this, they will measure 1000s of microRNAs in blood samples already collected from patients undergoing by-pass surgery.  These patients got varying degrees of heart muscle injury following clearly defined surgical intervention.  Combining these samples with their expertise and experience in microRNAs has the potential to result in real benefit for patients.

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Improving risk prediction of cardiovascular disease in type 1 diabetes in Scotland

  • Professor Helen Colhoun and H. Looker, Division of Population Health Sciences, University of Dundee
  • £89,419 over 18 months

Type 1 diabetes causes increased heart disease and stroke (CVD) risk, but this is not equally the case in all patients.  Some people develop heart disease or stroke at young ages, and some not at all.  If it could be predicted who is most at risk, this would expose fewer patients to unnecessary treatments and side effects, whilst highlighting those patients who need more treatment but are not currently receiving it.  The work the researchers propose harnesses the unique strengths of electronic health care records data in Scotland to develop such a prediction tool for the benefit of patients worldwide.

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Increasing physical activity in stroke survivors using STARFISH, an interactive mobile phone application: a randomised controlled trial

  • Dr. Lorna Paul, Dr. A. Dybus, Dr. J. Gill, Professor S. Brewster, Dr. C. Gray and Mrs. G. Alexander, University of Glasgow
  • £89,999 over three years

Stroke survivors are less physically active, leading to health problems and risk of further stroke.  STARFISH is a mobile phone app where people, in groups of four, are represented by fish.  As people walk, the sensors in the phone record their steps, their fish swims and grows larger.  Due to the positive results of the pilot study, the researchers propose a larger scale, four month trial (64 people using STARFISH and 64 control), with outcome measures at baseline, post intervention and two months later.  Outcome measures include physical activity, physical and psychological measures, quality of life and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease.

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