This year, in celebration of reaching 50 years, we are challenging our global community to raise £50,000 for our charity of choice, Heart Research UK. The money we raise will go towards a project ‘Novel and Emerging Technologies’ Grant, which is being researched at Leicester University. This research project aims to develop a novel ECG-based test to measure the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Richard Bevan, Chief Executive
We are delighted to have chosen Heart Research UK as the nominated charity for our 50th anniversary year, in 2017. The excellent research funded by this charity, which celebrates its own 50th anniversary in the same year, has particular relevance for Emerald and the family business it is. In February 2014, Martin Fojt (Chairman of Emerald Publishing) suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack, which was a huge surprise and loss to us all. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) of this type is responsible for over 3 million deaths per year, worldwide and is the focus of a specific piece of research we are looking to support. I am sure that Emerald and its community will really get behind this charity in what is a very special year and in so doing remember Martin and ensure that he is part of the celebration.
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is responsible for over 3 million deaths per year worldwide and is frequently caused by lethal heart rhythm disturbances. These deaths could be prevented with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) – devices similar to pacemakers which detect life-threatening heart rhythms and deliver therapy or a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm. However, choosing the right patients for ICDs can be extremely difficult. Patients who are thought to be ‘high-risk’ may have ICDs implanted without making use of them, while most cases of SCD occur in a large population regarded as ‘low-risk’. The current tests to measure risk of SCD are inadequate, and balancing the risk of SCD against the potential harm and cost of unnecessary ICD treatment can be guesswork.
The electrocardiogram (ECG) is a simple everyday test performed to record the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart, and Professor Ng’s team has developed two new tests based on the ECG, for measuring the risk of SCD. The tests involve recording the ECG while performing a series of tests on the heart and the data is then used to work out numerical values of cardiac risk. They have already shown these tests to be effective in predicting which patients are at high risk of SCD in a series of small studies at Leicester. Building on the earlier work, this project will look at the predictive value of these tests in larger numbers of patients which is necessary before the tests can become routine clinical practice.
The study will recruit 440 patients from 11 of the leading specialist cardiac centres in the UK. Suitable patients will include those enlisted for ICD implants who also have coronary heart disease. Taking part in the study will involve an extra test performed on the heart during the ICD implant; an ECG will be carried out and later analysed to calculate numerical values for cardiac risk. These cardiac risk scores will then be compared with how often abnormal heart rhythms occur during an 18-month follow-up period.
The aim of this project is to develop a simple, accurate and cost-effective test which can more accurately identify people who need ICDs. It is hoped that this new technology could be applied in future studies to other groups for which there is no tool to assess sudden cardiac death risk.
Summary: This project aims to develop a simple, accurate and cost-effective test to predict which patients are at risk of sudden cardiac death and whose lives could be saved with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
In most cases, SCD is related to cardiac arrhythmias - abnormal heart rhythms. These arrhythmias have many different causes, but can happen in people with heart muscle damage, including those that have had a heart attack.
Patients with ‘ischaemic cardiomyopathy’ who are at risk of SCD will be taking part in this project. This is a condition where the heart muscle has been damaged by coronary heart disease or a heart attack.
Life-threatening arrhythmias can also happen in people who do not have damaged heart muscle, because they have an inherited heart condition such as Brugada Syndrome or long QT Syndrome (LQTS). These patients may also benefit from the HRUK-funded project.
Emma Stevenson, Associate Editor, Books Publishing.
I have led the annual Emerald charity fundraising efforts for 6 out of my 8 years with the company. Raising upwards of £20,000 per year for charities such as the NSPCC, W.O.R.K, Simon on the Streets and Breast Cancer Haven, to name a few. It has given my colleagues and I the chance to learn more about these incredibly important causes. We have also had a lot of fun thinking of ideas and putting them into action; from our annual auction, bake sales and quizzes, to marathons and apprentice challenges; the support from the wider Emerald community is amazing. Look out for even bigger plans this year as we strive to reach our £50,000 target!
Sara Price, Marketing Manager
I am the current chair for the Emerald charity committee and I've loved every second! In 2016 we raised money for Plan International which is a global charity helping children in the world’s poorest countries build a better future. We have organized everything from bake sales to sporting events, to summer fun days. It’s a lot of hard work but everyone helps out and we have a lot of fun. We’ve raised £20,000 which is a testament to everyone’s belief at Emerald to be charitable, which makes all the difference. The Emerald board really likes to get involved too, and some Directors have even got dressed up as cowboys for the summer fun day! 2017 is a very special year and as such we have given ourselves a target to raise a massive £50,000! But we love a challenge, and I’m confident that with the charity committee we’ve got and the generous community around the world, we’ll more than reach this target. Game on!