Progress against target

Super Rehab - Can a healthy lifestyle cure heart disease?

Dr Ali Khavandi, Consultant Cardiologist, and Dr Jonathan Rodrigues, Consultant Radiologist, are leading an RUH Cardiovascular research team in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bath, whose aim is to save lives by transforming treatment options.

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for over a quarter of all deaths per year in the UK, ending lives too soon and having a negative impact on the quality of life of many more.

Changes to diet and exercise have already been proven to be effective in improving conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, reducing the need for medication and in some cases resolving diseases completely.

Initial evidence suggests that lifestyle interventions can have the same positive results for people with advanced heart conditions. This includes coronary artery disease (the “furring up” of the heart’s own blood supply) and atrial fibrillation (the most common heart rhythm disturbance causing palpitations and breathlessness), which is the biggest cause of strokes.

Our Cardiovascular research team will uncover how lifestyle interventions could become effective treatment plans within the NHS, saving lives, avoiding risky procedures and reducing costs for our health service.

Research is often associated with the future, years from now, but this particular life-saving research has the potential to help patients more immediately.

We already know that lifestyle pathways, where healthcare specialists support patients through significant behavioural changes, have been proven to be effective in treating high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

We now need to prove that a high level, well-resourced one-to-one support programme for patients with cardiovascular disease is equally effective. Super Rehab will offer more than just diet and exercise advice. It will offer tailored diet and exercise programmes personalised for the individual with support to make sure the programme is practical and can become part of daily routine. Our experts have already seen that this approach can be life-changing and so would like to see it become part of normal heart health services.

The Cardiovascular research will start with two studies, one for coronary heart disease and one for atrial fibrillation, involving 100 patients across both studies.

Patients will be offered Super Rehab in addition to standard treatments, and the research team will track the impact using imaging, heart rhythm, blood tests and fitness tests.

A key feature of Super Rehab is that the programme will include integrated behavioural support techniques, tailored to the individual, to optimise effectiveness.

We are incredibly proud to be a research active trust with Research and Development (R&D) playing a vital part in our hospital’s work.

Research is essential in providing new knowledge and learning about advice and treatments that will improve a patient’s care and quality of life.

Clinicians across many different departments and specialties of the RUH are involved in a wide-range of research projects and evidence-based working.

We also carry out research in partnership with local universities in Bath and Bristol, as well as many other academic institutions, NHS Trusts and charities.

There is good evidence that patients treated in research active hospitals achieve better outcomes regardless of whether they themselves participated in research. Increasingly, patients expect to be offered the opportunity to be part of clinical research, a feature that has been emphasised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to see the RUH’s involvement in COVID-19 research:

There are different types of research which range from:

  • Trials of new medications, medical devices or treatments (clinical trials)
  • Observational studies (looking at assessments/treatment as part of routine clinical care)
  • Interviews/ focus group studies

Healthcare research studies help us understand how to diagnose, manage, treat, cure or prevent disease.

All research projects taking place at the hospital have obtained approval from the R&D office at the hospital and an NHS Research Ethics Committee.

How you can get involved and support this cardiovascular Research project

There are many ways people can support The Forever Friends Appeal:

Make a one off gift or make a regular donation online today
Take part in one of our fundraising events
Fundraise at your place of work
Join one of our Community Fundraising Groups or set one up
Leave a gift in your Will
Share with friends and family
Introduce a potential supporter

For further information about the Cardiovascular Research or our current priorities please get in touch on 01225 825691 or