10 September 2020

Cardiac cramp, or angina pectoris, is a common heart condition: about 450,000 Dutch people suffer from heart cramps. The condition is a result of one or more coronary artery constrictions, and leads to attacks of oppressive or oppressive chest pain. The pain can cause an oppressive feeling, and sometimes radiates to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach area. Even though these patients are well monitored and treated, they are still at risk of more severe heart failure. These symptoms often have a major impact on the patient's daily functioning.

Current treatment of angina pectoris

The treatment of heart cramps currently consists mainly of administering medication. Often these patients are also treated with a doctor's treatment or bypass surgery. However, a large recent study and meta-analysis have not shown any beneficial effects of these costly and invasive procedures.

Is the life-style solution for the treatment of heart cramps?

It is well known that a modified lifestyle can significantly improve the health of these patients. However, there are no studies that compare the effects of lifestyle adjustments and surgery. PRO-FIT research should change this. It examines whether a lifestyle intervention after one year leads to better results than a doctor's treatment or bypass surgery in patients with stable angina pectoris.

The research is a broad collaboration of academic hospitals Radboudumc, AMC and MUMC+, Máxima MC and Catharina Ziekenhuis, Wageningen University, Leiden University and TU/e, patient association Harteraad, Chronisch Zorgnet (national network of specialized care providers in movement and lifestyle), MiBida (provider of safe care communication) and Cardiovitaal cardiac rehabilitation center.

Structure of the research into lifestyle and heart spasms

Approximately 200 patients from five hospitals are randomly divided into two groups: one group receives the usual treatment. The other group receives a lifestyle intervention. This consists of nutritional coaching and an intensive training program at the physiotherapist, followed by remote guidance using an app and an activity tracker.

Hareld Kemps, main applicant for the grant and cardiologist in Máxima MC: "This is the first study to investigate lifestyle interventions for these patients. If the results are positive, it will have a major impact on the daily care of these patients. Then we can largely replace that care with a less invasive, cheaper and more sustainable treatment".

How do we tackle a lifestyle change?

The research must also answer the question of how such lifestyle treatment can be used in healthcare practice. Dick Thijssen, research project leader and cardiovascular physiologist at Radboudumc: "It is a challenge to implement lifestyle interventions nationwide. This requires a change in both patients and cardiologists. Both groups have to get used to the idea that changing your lifestyle under the guidance of health care providers is a good or even better treatment. In order to maximize the chances of success, we are therefore working with a nationwide network of physiotherapists, Harteraad and the Dutch Society for Cardiology.

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