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Study Background

Blood Pressure has steadily been on the rise in recent decades. High Blood Pressure affects at least 1 in 4 adults and is increasingly common in the young adult population. Our previous studies indicate that being born preterm may modify the cardiovascular system and increase a person’s chance of developing high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure increases a person’s risk for complications such as stroke.

Research has shown that lifestyle changes such as increased exercise may help to lower blood pressure. However, most blood pressure research has studied older populations. In particular, the effect of exercise on the blood pressure and cardiovascular system of preterm born young adults has not been well studied or reported. Based on these factors, we elected to develop and conduct the TEPHRA study.

Study Objective

We are conducting this trial to learn more about hypertension in young adults and to better understand how exercise acts to reduce blood pressure. Through TEPHRA, we will investigate the structure and function of the cardiovascular system and how it responds to exercise. We will specifically seek to improve our understanding of how birth histories, such as being born premature may influence blood pressure and response to exercise training.

We hope that TEPHRA will help us learn more about how high blood pressure develops and also improve our understanding of how it can be better managed and prevented in young adults.

Study Recruitment

TEPHRA will recruit 200 participants from 18-35 years old with slight to moderate blood pressure elevation. 100 participants will have been born pre-term born and 100 will have been born full-term.  Half of the participants from each birth group will be randomly placed into a 16 week supervised aerobic exercise program and the other half will maintain their normal daily routines.  

Study Visits

Study visits will take place in our research facility located inside the John Radcliffe Hospital.  All candidates for the study will first attend a brief screening visit to determine if they are a good fit for the study. Active study participants will attend three similar study visits over the course of a year. At each study visit, we will collect a range of non-invasive measurements including ultrasound imaging of the heart (echocardiography), accurate blood pressure measurements, peak exercise testing on a stationary bike, and collecting images of the small blood vessels in the skin and back of the eye. Half of TEPHRA participants will also complete magnetic resonance imaging of the heart, brain, and Liver. Study visits last about 3 hours. Further details are provided in the study information sheet and available on the trial website at www.oxfordheartstudy.com.

Research Funding

The study is supported with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Study Approval

The study has been approved by the Oxford B Research Ethic Committee (Reference 16/SC/0016).

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