Ethnicity could impact health of kidney transplant patients

Posted by ap507 at Jul 28, 2016 09:50 AM |
University of Leicester research explores ethnic differences in physical activity

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 28 July

People’s ethnicity impacts their physical activity following a kidney transplant, according to research carried out by the University of Leicester.

Transplant operations improve health and quality of life for patients with kidney failure, but cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the largest cause of mortality with people with the condition, particularly among South Asians.

A study explored ethnic differences in physical activity and functional capacity among kidney patients and showed that South Asians have significantly lower physical function compared to white British people.

NIHR-supported researchers from the Leicester Kidney Exercise Team carried out the research, which was partly funded by Kidney Research UK via a bursary which was awarded to a medical student who carried out some of the work.

Lead author Dr Alice Smith who is a Senior NHS Researcher and Team Leader for the Leicester Kidney Exercise Team, John Walls Renal Unit, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of CVD, but we are finding that not many patients who have undergone the transplant operation are being advised to get active.

Dr Smith, who is also from the University of Leicester Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, said: “People with a South Asian origin unfortunately appear to spend more time sitting down and have lower physical capacity than those with a white background.

“Our research has shown that we need to focus on appropriate strategies to engage South Asian kidney patients in exercise to improve physical function and reduce cardiovascular risk in this particularly vulnerable population.”

A total of 271 transplant patients took part in the study and they were asked to complete a physical activity questionnaire to describe their attitude towards exercise.

They were also asked how willing they were to change their physical activity behaviour.

Some participants were also asked to carry out a number of tests to measure their physical capabilities.

They took part in tests to measure their walking ability and the strength of their legs getting up from a chair. They also had their heart output and body fat measured.

Neerja Jain, Health Improvement Project Manager for Kidney Research UK, said: “This study is a prime example of evidence gaps which need to be urgently addressed so that we can understand why some people face worse health outcomes than others.

“Kidney Research UK runs a range of programmes addressing health inequalities so we can help people from communities at greater risk. Great research like this by the team at Leicester will continue to inform our work.”

Researchers are now calling on healthcare professionals to adopt new ways of encouraging kidney transplant patients from the South Asian community to exercise in a bid to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Some of the running costs came from University Hospitals Leicester (UHL) and staff involved were faculty members of the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Biomedical Research Unit (BRU).

BRUs are focused on translational clinical research, taking new ideas from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside to improve health. The Leicester and the Leicester-Loughborough BRU is a national centre of excellence in diet, lifestyle and physical activity.

It harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop.

  • For further details, to arrange an interview or more photographs, email
  • The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) is funded by the NIHR. By harnessing the power of experimental science we will explore and develop innovative lifestyle interventions to help prevent and treat chronic disease for the benefit of all. The BRUs undertake translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need.
  • The Leicester Kidney Exercise Team is a multidisciplinary research group based at Leicester General Hospital which comprises health professionals from the University of Leicester, University Hospitals of Leicester and Loughborough University. They are dedicated to enhancing the health, wellbeing and quality of life of people with kidney disease through appropriate physical activity and exercise.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (


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