Funding boost for cardiac surgery

01 December 2012

QEHB researchers have received two major boosts in their efforts to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in patients with chronic kidney disease.

The first is a major grant from the British Heart Foundation to fund the UK-wide trial of a drug which could improve treatment for the condition and reduce costs.

Spironolactone has been to shown to inhibit the actions of a substance in the blood called aldosterone, which damages the heart and arteries.

Dr Jonathan Townend

Dr Jonathan Townend

Patients with mild kidney disease are at high risk of death and serious ill health from stroke and heart disease, so spironolactone shows promise as a way of reducing death and disease rates.

The new grant funds research nurses in the four hospitals carrying out the trial. The money will also go to the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit to manage the trial.

The trial is led by cardiology consultant Dr John Townend, who says this is the latest example of QEHB specialists in kidney and heart conditions working together: “This comes on the back of

two trials each with around 100 patients with early stage chronic kidney disease, so we have experience with this sort of thing in Birmingham. This one is the first multi-centre trial we have done across the UK.

“It’s about a close collaboration between the nephrology and cardiology specialties, and a lot of the unexplored areas sit between specialties like this.”

The trial will make use of the recently expanded Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at the QEHB, which includes fully equipped patient beds and a full suite of testing and sampling equipment.

Senior Cardiology Research Sister Elizabeth Dwenger says having the CRF is important to such trials: “The patients like it in the CRF. They feel safe, with plenty of people around in a good environment.

“As a nurse it’s nice to run projects there because the patients are happy and we have everything we need.”

The spironolactone trial will begin recruiting in February at QEHB, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the Royal Free Hospital London.

Dr Charles Ferro

Dr Charles Ferro

Meanwhile, one of the key researchers in the trial, consultant nephrologist Dr Charles Ferro, has been awarded a prestigious NIHR Clinical Research Fellowship.

This Fellowship will provide three years of funding to carry out this important work into improving outcomes and quality of care in patients with CKD.

The first part of the Fellowship will extend and complement his work with Dr Townend on spironolactone.

The second part of the fellowship will involve working closely working with the Director of Informatics Daniel Ray to collect data on hospital admissions with a diagnosis of heart attack or stroke, including treatment and outcomes.

These patients’ records will then be studied to see whether they had CKD before admission and what treatment they were getting. The research will also look at the treatment they received subsequently and their long-term outcome.

In the stroke patients, Dr Ferro will particularly be looking at the impact of a drug called warfarin on their treatment and outcome.