Research at Heartbeat

Through high quality, ethically-approved research we can improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Here at Heartbeat we are to keen to facilitate research so please get in touch if you have a project of your own you would like to discuss.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is an atherosclerotic disease that causes narrowing of the arteries in the legs and affects over 237 million adults worldwide. The severity of PAD ranges from intermittent claudication (IC) which presents as pain in the buttocks/legs when walking, through to critical limb threatening ischemia (CLTI) which presents as constant pain day and night, and is often accompanied by ulcers, tissue loss and/or gangrene.

As well as the risk of losing a limb, there is a significant risk of heart attack, stroke and death, so improving physical function (such as walking distance and strength), and enhancing quality of life is the predominant goal to treat this disease. Research is needed so that guidelines to treat patients with PAD are more specific.

Meet the Research Team

Jo Duff

Hi I’m Joanne Duff, a Clinical Physiologist at Heartbeat and PhD researcher with Manchester Metropolitan University. We know that an Exercise and Education Programme benefits those who have had surgery to improve blood flow to their heart, but nobody has done research to see if an Exercise & Education Programme benefits those who have had surgery to improve blood flow to their legs….until now!

Sally Seed

My name is Sally, I am a British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Instructor at Heartbeat and in the final year of my PhD. I am investigating the optimal level of claudication pain for patients with peripheral artery disease. Intermittent claudication is the main symptom of peripheral artery disease, characterised by a reproducible aching sensation in the calf muscle, brought on by exertion and relieved at rest. Supervised exercise programmes are the first line of treatment for patients with intermittent claudication to help patients walk longer without getting pain in their calves, however it is unclear which level of claudication pain patients should work to before resting (i.e., maximal pain, pain-free or moderate pain). Therefore, we set up a randomised control trial to see which one of the three pain thresholds is most effective. Before this research began, Heartbeat did not receive any peripheral artery disease patient referrals. Therefore, we worked as a multi-disciplinary team to set-up a brand-new referral pathway into Heartbeat. This has been very successful, and we now have three supervised exercises classes for patients with peripheral artery disease running twice a week across two sites (Preston & Chorley).


Ellis Whorlton-Jones

I’m Ellis, a researcher in clinical exercise physiology and I’m currently looking into how exercise can manage and treat peripheral arterial disease. More specifically, my research is aiming to understand how arteries adapt to exercising at different levels of intensity or pain. So far we know that exercising will improve blood flow to the affected area, but we know much less about the mechanisms behind this process. I am using ultrasound and blood tests to measure for changes within the body, as well assessing for other indicators of cardiovascular disease. The aims of the research are to hopefully impact future exercise guidelines for patients with peripheral arterial disease.

Would you like to get involved?

Before we run this research trial we are asking patients with CLTI and health professionals who have experience with CLTI to help design the Exercise and Education Programme.

You will be required to complete 2 short surveys which will ask for your views and opinions on exercise and education (all answers will be anonymous). If you complete the surveys you will also have the option to register your interest to attend our workshop where we will finalise the design of the programme. This is optional but we welcome your opinion and we would like an equal number of patient and professional representatives to attend.

You can click on the link below to access the survey or you can contact myself to request a paper copy.
Link to survey 1: [inset URL] If you have an questions about this research project please email me: