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1.  Targets and self-management for the control of blood pressure in stroke and at risk groups (TASMIN-SR): protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Self-monitoring of hypertension with self-titration of antihypertensives (self-management) results in lower systolic blood pressure for at least one year. However, few people in high risk groups have been evaluated to date and previous work suggests a smaller effect size in these groups. This trial therefore aims to assess the added value of self-management in high risk groups over and above usual care.
The targets and self-management for the control of blood pressure in stroke and at risk groups (TASMIN-SR) trial will be a pragmatic primary care based, unblinded, randomised controlled trial of self-management of blood pressure (BP) compared to usual care. Eligible patients will have a history of stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease and will be recruited from primary care. Participants will be individually randomised to either usual care or self-management. The primary outcome of the trial will be difference in office SBP between intervention and control groups at 12 months adjusted for baseline SBP and covariates. 540 patients will be sufficient to detect a difference in SBP between self-management and usual care of 5 mmHg with 90% power. Secondary outcomes will include self-efficacy, lifestyle behaviours, health-related quality of life and adverse events. An economic analysis will consider both within trial costs and a model extrapolating the results thereafter. A qualitative analysis will gain insights into patients’ views, experiences and decision making processes.
The results of the trial will be directly applicable to primary care in the UK. If successful, self-management of blood pressure in people with stroke and other high risk conditions would be applicable to many hundreds of thousands of individuals in the UK and beyond.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC3623796  PMID: 23522245
Hypertension; Self-management; Stroke, Diabetes; Coronary heart disease; Chronic kidney disease; Primary care
2.  Trial Protocol: A randomised controlled trial of extended anticoagulation treatment versus routine anticoagulation treatment for the prevention of recurrent VTE and post thrombotic syndrome in patients being treated for a first episode of unprovoked VTE (The ExACT Study) 
Venous thromboembolism comprising pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis is a common condition with an incidence of approximately 1 per 1,000 per annum causing both mortality and serious morbidity. The principal aim of treatment of a venous thromboembolism with heparin and warfarin is to prevent extension or recurrence of clot. However, the recurrence rate following a deep vein thrombosis remains approximately 10% per annum following treatment cessation irrespective of the duration of anticoagulation therapy. Patients with raised D-dimer levels after discontinuing oral anticoagulation treatment have also been shown to be at high risk of recurrence.
Post thrombotic syndrome is a complication of a deep vein thrombosis which can lead to chronic venous insufficiency and ulceration. It has a cumulative incidence after 2 years of around 25% and it has been suggested that extended oral anticoagulation should be investigated as a possible preventative measure.
Patients with a first idiopathic venous thromboembolism will be recruited through anticoagulation clinics and randomly allocated to either continuing or discontinuing warfarin treatment for a further 2 years and followed up on a six monthly basis. At each visit D-dimer levels will be measured using a Roche Cobas h 232 POC device. In addition a venous sample will be taken for laboratory D-dimer analysis at the end of the study. Patients will be examined for signs and symptoms of PTS using the Villalta scale and complete VEINES and EQ5D quality of life questionnaires.
The primary aim of the study is to investigate whether extending oral anticoagulation treatment (prior to discontinuing treatment) beyond 3–6 months for patients with a first unprovoked proximal deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism prevents recurrence. The study will also determine the role of extending anticoagulation for patients with elevated D-dimer levels prior to discontinuing treatment and identify the potential of D-dimer point of care testing for identification of high risk patients within a primary care setting.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3602651  PMID: 23497371
Venous thromboembolism; Deep vein thrombosis; Pulmonary embolism; Extended warfarin; Post thrombotic syndrome; D-dimer
3.  The REFER (REFer for EchocaRdiogram) protocol: a prospective validation of a clinical decision rule, NT-proBNP, or their combination, in the diagnosis of heart failure in primary care. Rationale and design 
Heart failure is a major cause of mortality and morbidity. As mortality rates are high, it is important that patients seen by general practitioners with symptoms suggestive of heart failure are identified quickly and treated appropriately. Identifying patients with heart failure or deciding which patients need further tests is a challenge. All patients with suspected heart failure should be diagnosed using objective tests such as echocardiography, but it is expensive, often delayed, and limited by the significant skill shortage of trained echocardiographers. Alternative approaches for diagnosing heart failure are currently limited. Clinical decision tools that combine clinical signs, symptoms or patient characteristics are designed to be used to support clinical decision-making and validated according to strict methodological procedures. The REFER Study aims to determine the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of our previously derived novel, simple clinical decision rule, a natriuretic peptide assay, or their combination, in the triage for referral for echocardiography of symptomatic adult patients who present in general practice with symptoms suggestive of heart failure.
This is a prospective, Phase II observational, diagnostic validation study of a clinical decision rule, natriuretic peptides or their combination, for diagnosing heart failure in primary care. Consecutive adult primary care patients 55 years of age or over presenting to their general practitioner with a chief complaint of recent new onset shortness of breath, lethargy or peripheral ankle oedema of over 48 hours duration, with no obvious recurrent, acute or self-limiting cause will be enrolled. Our reference standard is based upon a three step expert specialist consensus using echocardiography and clinical variables and tests.
Our clinical decision rule offers a potential solution to the diagnostic challenge of providing a timely and accurate diagnosis of heart failure in primary care. Study results will provide an evidence-base from which to develop heart failure care pathway recommendations and may be useful in standardising care. If demonstrated to be effective, the clinical decision rule will be of interest to researchers, policy makers and general practitioners worldwide.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3519731  PMID: 23110558
Heart failure; Clinical decision rule; Diagnosis; Echocardiogram; NT-proBNP
4.  Protocol for Past BP: a randomised controlled trial of different blood pressure targets for people with a history of stroke of transient ischaemic attack (TIA) in primary care 
Blood pressure (BP) lowering in people who have had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) leads to reduced risk of further stroke. However, it is not clear what the target BP should be, since intensification of therapy may lead to additional adverse effects. PAST BP will determine whether more intensive BP targets can be achieved in a primary care setting, and whether more intensive therapy is associated with adverse effects on quality of life.
This is a randomised controlled trial (RCT) in patients with a past history of stroke or TIA. Patients will be randomised to two groups and will either have their blood pressure (BP) lowered intensively to a target of 130 mmHg systolic, (or by 10 mmHg if the baseline systolic pressure is between 125 and 140 mmHg) compared to a standard group where the BP will be reduced to a target of 140 mmHg systolic. Patients will be managed by their practice at 1-3 month intervals depending on level of BP and followed-up by the research team at six monthly intervals for 12 months.
610 patients will be recruited from approximately 50 general practices. The following exclusion criteria will be applied: systolic BP <125 mmHg at baseline, 3 or more anti-hypertensive agents, orthostatic hypotension, diabetes mellitus with microalbuminuria or other condition requiring a lower treatment target or terminal illness.
The primary outcome will be change in systolic BP over twelve months. Secondary outcomes include quality of life, adverse events and cardiovascular events.
In-depth interviews with 30 patients and 20 health care practitioners will be undertaken to investigate patient and healthcare professionals understanding and views of BP management.
The results of this trial will inform whether intensive blood pressure targets can be achieved in people who have had a stroke or TIA in primary care, and help determine whether or not further research is required before recommending such targets for this population.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2923098  PMID: 20696047
5.  Protocol for a randomised controlled trial of telemonitoring and self-management in the control of hypertension: Telemonitoring and self-management in hypertension. [ISRCTN17585681] 
Controlling blood pressure with drugs is a key aspect of cardiovascular disease prevention, but until recently has been the sole preserve of health professionals. Self-management of hypertension is an under researched area in which potential benefits for both patients and professionals are great.
Methods and design
The telemonitoring and self-management in hypertension trial (TASMINH2) will be a primary care based randomised controlled trial with embedded economic and qualitative analyses in order to evaluate the costs and effects of increasing patient involvement in blood pressure management, specifically with respect to home monitoring and self titration of antihypertensive medication compared to usual care. Provision of remote monitoring results to participating practices will ensure that practice staff are able to engage with self management and provide assistance where required. 478 patients will be recruited from general practices in the West Midlands, which is sufficient to detect clinically significant differences in systolic blood pressure between self-management and usual care of 5 mmHg with 90% power. Patients will be excluded if they demonstrate an inability to self monitor, their blood pressure is below 140/90 or above 200/100, they are on three or more antihypertensive medications, have a terminal disease or their blood pressure is not managed by their general practitioner.
The primary end point is change in mean systolic blood pressure (mmHg) between baseline and each follow up point (6 months and 12 months). Secondary outcomes will include change in mean diastolic blood pressure, costs, adverse events, health behaviours, illness perceptions, beliefs about medication, medication compliance and anxiety. Modelling will evaluate the impact of costs and effects on a system wide basis. The qualitative analysis will draw upon the views of users, informal carers and professionals regarding the acceptability of self-management and prerequisites for future widespread implementation should the trial show this approach to be efficacious.
The TASMINH2 trial will provide important new evidence regarding the costs and effects of self monitoring with telemonitoring in a representative primary care hypertensive population.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2664788  PMID: 19220913
6.  Protocol for Birmingham Atrial Fibrillation Treatment of the Aged study (BAFTA): a randomised controlled trial of warfarin versus aspirin for stroke prevention in the management of atrial fibrillation in an elderly primary care population [ISRCTN89345269] 
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important independent risk factor for stroke. Randomised controlled trials have shown that this risk can be reduced substantially by treatment with warfarin or more modestly by treatment with aspirin. Existing trial data for the effectiveness of warfarin are drawn largely from studies in selected secondary care populations that under-represent the elderly.
The Birmingham Atrial Fibrillation Treatment of the Aged (BAFTA) study will provide evidence of the risks and benefits of warfarin versus aspirin for the prevention of stroke for older people with AF in a primary care setting.
Study design
A randomised controlled trial where older patients with AF are randomised to receive adjusted dose warfarin or aspirin. Patients will be followed up at three months post-randomisation, then at six monthly intervals there after for an average of three years by their general practitioner. Patients will also receive an annual health questionnaire.
1240 patients will be recruited from over 200 practices in England. Patients must be aged 75 years or over and have AF. Patients will be excluded if they have a history of any of the following conditions: rheumatic heart disease; major non-traumatic haemorrhage; intra-cranial haemorrhage; oesophageal varices; active endoscopically proven peptic ulcer disease; allergic hypersensitivity to warfarin or aspirin; or terminal illness. Patients will also be excluded if the GP considers that there are clinical reasons to treat a patient with warfarin in preference to aspirin (or vice versa).
The primary end-point is fatal or non-fatal disabling stroke (ischaemic or haemorrhagic) or significant arterial embolism. Secondary outcomes include major extra-cranial haemorrhage, death (all cause, vascular), hospital admissions (all cause, vascular), cognition, quality of life, disability and compliance with study medication.
PMCID: PMC201020  PMID: 12939169

Results 1-6 (6)