Town consultant set to spearhead major study
23 November 2022 - by News Reporter
A CONSULTANT Paediatric Cardiologist from Banbridge is set to spearhead a major study into congenital heart disease in children.
The British Heart Foundation has awarded a £1million research fellowship (over five years), to Dr. Michael Quail, who is based at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
The study is focused on a group of children born with a type of congenital heart disease called coarctation of the aorta.
Welcoming the research funding, Dr. Quail – a past pupil of St. Mary’s PS and St. Colman’s College – said it was a hugely significant investment for children’s heart disease. It is hoped that the project will get underway in the new year.
“In coarctation of the aorta, there is a narrowing in the aorta just beyond the branches that supply the head and arms with blood,” father-of-five Dr. Quail explained.
“This prevents the blood from circulating normally in the lower half of the body and can be very serious.
“The narrowing of the aorta is usually repaired with surgery during early childhood.
“In the long-term, a significant proportion of patients who have had a coarctation repair develop high blood pressure, but we don’t understand why.
“High blood pressure can cause problems in later life, including strokes (damage to the brain from bleeding or clots) and heart failure (the heart muscle doesn't squeeze and relax properly).
“The project aims to understand why there is a tendency to high blood pressure in this group of children, by studying the parts of the body which control blood pressure, including the kidney and nervous system.
“Our hope is to develop better treatments for high blood pressure and improve the lives of patients with coarctation.”
Dr. Quail, who is an Honorary Associate Professor at University College, London, said he was “very excited” to see the project come to fruition.
“The designing, planning and writing of the project has been a long time in gestation, and it’s great to be finally underway,” he told the Chronicle.
“There are lots of barriers to research in children’s heart disease. For example, some conditions are quite uncommon, which makes it difficult to study sufficient numbers of children to draw strong conclusions, or test new treatments.
“The rarity means that research funding might be more likely to go towards more common adult heart disease - although this is also very important and necessary, we compete for the same limited pot.
“This funding is, therefore, a very important investment for children’s heart disease, in general and coarctation, in particular.
“It’s also an investment in me to be a dedicated clinician researcher in children’s heart disease.”
Now living in London, Dr. Quail returns to Banbridge several times a year to visit his parents, who live on the Lurgan Road.
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