Running together for healthier hearts | News from St Bartholomew's

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Running together for healthier hearts

Mile End Parkrun photo from June 2022

NHS staff and patients have run side-by-side in an east London park in a bid to improve their heart health.

They were taking part in the Mile End parkrun – a free 5 kilometre course located in the heart of our community.

Physical activity is important in any patient’s recovery and rehabilitation, but particularly for those living with a heart condition and as a means of preventing heart disease.

Team Barts Health on the day included rehab and cardiovascular nurses, cardiology, endocrinology, diabetes and paediatrics consultants, a GP, sports and exercise doctor, plus patients.

The families of staff and patients came out to watch and take part in the event, which took place earlier this month.

Dr Mohammed Khanji, a consultant from the Barts Heart Centre who helped to organise the day with parkrun, said it was a “fantastic event”.

"One patient said she had not been to the park since the pandemic began but was really motivated to come again and bring her family along next time.

"Even with just one event we have a made a meaningful difference", he added.

The team are hoping to recruit some local champions who can come along each week to welcome first-timers and encourage others to attend regularly. 

East London has some of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease in the capital and the fifth highest rate of premature death in the country.

The East London Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Group, or ‘ELoPE’ for short, was established in 2016 by clinicians alarmed by a problem they describe as “near pandemic levels.”

Alongside events encouraging physical activity, they also run a number of educational programmes including talks to year six pupils in local primary schools.

Several other parks in the east London host weekly parkruns. Begining at 9am they are free to attend and open to all.

Participants can walk, jog, run, volunteer or simply come and support, and socialise afterwards in the local cafe.

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