Clinical research study is life-changing for healthcare assistant

Clinical research can not only shape future treatment but also transform the lives of those who take part. One such example is that of the DASHER trial in the treatment of hypertension.

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 The DASHER research study

DASHER was a clinical trial funded by the UK Gawthorn Cardiac Trust and co-sponsored by the University of Exeter Medical School and the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

Hypertension will affect over 25 per cent of adults across the UK, although many will not be aware of it. If left untreated, the risk of serious health problems such as stroke and heart attacks is increased.

The trial recruited 4,774 individuals from South West GP surgeries between 2016 and 2017. This 18-week trial in the treatment of high blood pressure included 10 nurse-led visits. During the trial, participants received hypertension treatment that was carefully monitored and adjusted according to how well the medication worked and was tolerated by the patient.

The trial was led by the principal investigator and clinical research fellow at the Exeter Clinical Research Facility, Dr Andrew Jordan, who claims the trial shows that this treatment can effectively and safely reduce high blood pressure amongst those recently diagnosed in moderate to severe cases. Future ambitions include looking at resistance in treatment and how treatment plans can be more adequately customised to meet individual needs.

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According to the NHS National Institute for Health Research, all NHS trusts and 42 per cent of GP surgeries were involved in the recruitment of more than 600,0000 individuals for clinical research during 2016-2017. To find medical studies that pay and could benefit you, clinical research organisations such as list the trials that need volunteers in your area.

A personal experience

Julie Main, an Exeter health care assistant (HCA), helped with selecting eligible patients at the St Thomas Health Centre, where she had worked for 13 years, and underwent the trial herself. She learned a great deal about hypertension as an HCA and how her symptoms of irritability and general feelings of being unwell were a result of her blood pressure. Thanks to the trial, she received an in-depth check-up and treatment that has brought her blood pressure to a manageable level and her symptoms under control.