Disturbances to the normal heartbeat are called arrhythmias, with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia seen in cardiovascular departments, occurring in 1–2% of the general population (Camm et al., 2010). AF is associated with increased risk of death from stroke with one in five of all strokes associated with this arrhythmia (Bairapareddy, et al., 2018).
Obesity is increasingly recognized as a major modifiable determinant of AF. A growing body of data from epidemiological and clinical studies has demonstrated that excess epicardial fat (EAT) is consistently associated with the presence, severity, and recurrence of AF (Wong, et al., 2017).
Exercise in the form of physical activity is well known as the cornerstone treatment for obesity-related conditions, however there is a scarcity of studies published evaluating whether exercise training changes EAT thickness.
The aim of this PhD is:
1 - To establish the current state of knowledge on EAT and AF.
2 - To devise a suitable physical activity programme tailored for EAT reduction.
3- To establish the feasibility and preliminary effects of the activity programme.
4 - To disseminate new knowledge, inform clinical practice development and promote further research to prevent AF in our local context.
This project is best positioned within the Centre for Health and Rehabilitation Technologies of the Institute of Nursing and Health Research as it combines an ECR and established expertise across cardiac physiology and health research.
Our overarching methodology is health technology assessment as this is a systematic approach to the evaluation of health technologies and interventions. Within this approach four elements are planned:
1- A systematic review and meta-analysis
2- Development of a research project evaluating physical activities and EAT informed by literature, theory and stakeholder engagement,
3- Design of a pilot study
4- The knowledge outputs from the literature review will be guided by theory to inform a knowledge transfer plan to engage with relevant stakeholders (Consultant electrophysiologists, Primary Care health providers and people with AF). This will involve reporting to these stakeholders as well as academic papers for publication and conference attendance.
Please note, the successful candidate will be required to obtain AccessNI clearance prior to registration due to the nature of the project.
If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.
The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:
The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies
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Friday 7 February 2020
19th/20th March 2020
The largest of Ulster's campuses
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