Health professional and patient

Researchers recommend cardiac rehab programme for national expansion

A new study has concluded that an award-winning cardiac rehabilitation programme should be expanded across the whole of Scotland, after it showed significant quality of life and financial benefits.

The University of Glasgow’s research study followed more than 100 people with heart failure across Scotland as they took part in the REACH-HF programme. The research found that the programme not only enhanced heart failure patients’ quality of life, but it was also shown to be an affordable method of rehabilitation care for NHS Scotland.

Approximately one million people in the UK have heart failure, costing the NHS around £2bn every single year – mainly down to unplanned hospitalisations. Cardiac rehabilitation can be an effective treatment course for heart failure, however those with the condition are sometimes unable to travel to and from hospital participate in the classes, meaning that only one in 20 people diagnosed with heart failure receive cardiac rehabilitation.

But now, if the REACH-HF initiative was launched across Scotland, researchers believe the health sector can overcome these barriers.

Including everything from chair-based exercises, a walking plan, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle and medication manuals, the 12-week programme both supports and educates the patient and their family and friends.

Lead author of the University of Glasgow’s study, Dr Carrie Purcell, said: “As a home-based programme that can provide remote support from healthcare professionals, we knew REACH-HF could overcome many of the obstacles that prevent people with heart failure taking part in hospital-based programmes.

“Through this study we have now also shown that the programme can improve the quality of life and health of people with heart failure and be delivered in a cost-effective way in the NHS in Scotland.”

The REACH-HF programme was originally developed by a cross-academia partnership led by the University of Glasgow’s Professor Rod Taylor and the University of Exeter’s Dr Hasnain Dalal, as well as a team of UK researchers.

Rod Taylor, a Professor of Population Health Research at the University of Glasgow, added: “Rehabilitation is key element of care to help people with heart failure live their lives as well as possible.

“REACH-HF can not only improve the quality of life of heart failure patients and help keep them out of hospital, it is also cost-effective in a real-world setting, and support the programme being made available by Health Boards across Scotland’s NHS.”

The research study was funded by Heart Research UK and was published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.

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NHE May/June 2024

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