Evaluating benefits of pre-surgery exercise

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EXPERTS have launched research in the region to evaluate the benefits of high-intensity exercise prior to surgery.

The research involving specialists in Middlesbrough, York, and Sheffield focuses on patients who have abdominal aortic aneurysms – a potentially life-threatening swelling for the main abdominal blood vessel.

They are asked to carry out fitness work on a hospital exercise bike three times a week for four weeks before operations are carried out and their heart rate and blood pressure are carefully monitored. Doctors hope the work could lead to reduced complications and faster recovery.

Maureen Bates, of Skelton, near Middlesbrough, was the first to complete a pre-operative fitness programme in the £245,000 trial involving 60 people.

“I thought it was good fun and I never found it difficult,” she said.

She had no symptoms of an aneurysm and it was only spotted when an unrelated X-ray was carried out and she was sent to hospital in an ambulance.

Consultant anaesthetist Prof Gerard Danjoux, of The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, leading the trial, said: “When people are told they have an aneurysm it’s a shock.

“A lot of patients refrain from doing anything at all for fear of the aneurysm growing or bursting, but this means they are less fit ahead of their surgery so it’s probably the wrong thing to do.

“Evidence shows the fitter you are before surgery the better you do, but we are looking at whether it is possible to get that fitness up in a short period of time.”

Evidence gathered will also help support wider research by the Royal College of Anaesthetists into care before, after and during surgery.