The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

LGI-led study seeks to improve services for patients with pacemakers

3 March 2015

The largest ever independent assessment of heart function and outcomes in patients with pacemakers is underway. It is being co-ordinated from Leeds General Infirmary and involves patients from hospitals in Bradford and Harrogate as well as Leeds.

There are 2.6 million people in the UK who live with Coronary Heart Disease including 300,000 people with a pacemaker, a common treatment for slow heart beats.

Patients from around the region have pacemakers fitted at the Yorkshire Heart Centre at Leeds General Infirmary, and the hospital is leading the Optimising Pacemaker Therapy Research Studyfunded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and Humber.

Patients with pacemakers are seen annually to have their device checked – across England this costs the National Health Service approximately £50 million a year and is led by and carried out by highly trained technical teams. The annual technical follow-up is usually limited to checking the leads and the battery.

It is possible that many patients could be seen less frequently while on the other hand, some patients might benefit from more frequent reviews and more detailed personalisation of the pacemaker programming. Simple measures taken during a routine pacemaker check might help identify patients at higher risk of complications, or a progression of their heart condition.

The aim of the Optimising Pacemaker Therapy Pace Study is to identify which patients with a pacemaker are at higher risk of developing further problems or complications, so that follow-up frequency can be tailored to the needs of the patient. We will also determine whether identifying heart failure (one of the most frequent complications of pacemaker treatment) and optimising pacemaker programming and tablet therapy improves patient-orientated outcomes and is cost-effective.

The study is led by Chief Investigator, Dr Klaus Witte a Cardiologist based at Leeds General Infirmary. So far over 900 patients have taken part with sites currently open in Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate hospitals, and is funded by the NIHR Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and Humber.

Dr Witte said; “This project is about tailoring pacemaker therapy to individual patients. Not all patients need yearly checks, but some might need to be seen more frequently. We also want to investigate why some people with pacemakers develop heart muscle weakness or heart failure and how we can best prevent or treat that.

“The study is the largest ever independent prospective assessment of heart function and outcomes in patients with pacemakers and we are grateful for the support of the NIHR and our patients throughout West Yorkshire that are helping this study be a success.’

One of the patients who participated in the study added; “I was happy to help with the cardiology research. I have always had great care from the cardiology department in Harrogate Hospital. The pacemaker has changed my life for the better. I hope by being involved in cardiology research it can help others to a better healthier life like myself.”

Find out more about the study here


Interesting facts about your heart 

  • The average healthy heart beats 100,000 times, sending 2,000 gallons of blood surging through your body do the math and that’s 2.5 billion beats in the average lifetime
  • A good belly laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through your entire body
  • A female human heart pumps about six beats faster per minute than a male heart.
  • The body's system of blood vessels is more than 60,000 miles long
  • The average heart weighs between 7 and 15 ounces (about what an apple weighs) and is a little larger than the size of your fist.
  • It begins beating about 22 days after conception, and ends, well, when you do. By the end of a long life, a human heart can beat up to 3.5 billion times.