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Is your heart HAPPY?

Scientists in London are looking for individuals to take part in a new “e-health” trial which aims to see if computer technologies – such as the internet and emails – can help to reduce people’s chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

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An MRI scan of the heart
An MRI scan of the heart

The Heart Attack Prevention Programme for You (HAPPY) London study is looking at whether electronic health coaching can help people understand how to live healthier lives and improve risk factors known to cause heart disease. The programme is being run by Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, along with Barts Health NHS Trust and is funded by Barts Charity.

Diseases of the blood vessels such as heart attacks and strokes are the biggest cause of death in the UK and worldwide. The number of people developing these conditions is likely to rise significantly due to growing problems with obesity and diabetes combined with the fact that we have an ageing population.

Participants will be enrolled for six months and undergo an initial health assessment. To test whether the intervention works, participants will be randomly allocated to two groups. Half will receive standard care, which means they’ll have an assessment, get verbal advice and be referred to their GP, while the others will receive standard care along with electronic health coaching.

Dr Mohammed Khanji, a specialist in cardiovascular imaging at the William Harvey Research Institute at Barts and The London, said: “Those receiving e-health coaching will get advice on factors such as diet, exercise and smoking. It will be tailored to the individual and will target any poor lifestyle habits and medical risk factors picked up through the health assessment.

“At the end of the six month period patients will be re-assessed and we’ll take various measurements to see if their health has improved. We’ll also be doing MRI scans of the heart of a third of participants to look for physical changes before and after the HAPPY programme, along with using state of the art ultrasound machines to measure changes in the thickness of the walls of the neck arteries.

“The hope is that participants will like the online nature of the e-health coaching, but that it will also be beneficial to their health and cost-effective.”

The team aim to recruit 400 people to the study.

Participants need to be between 40 and 74 years-of-age and be at least at moderate risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years.

To find out if they are suitable, individuals just need to fill out a three-minute online questionnaire which looks at risk factors such as family history, smoking and high blood pressure.

Those who are eligible will then be able to book an appointment to be assessed by the team at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The questionnaire and further details, such as inclusion and exclusion criteria, are available on the HAPPY London website:

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