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Heart Research Australia supporting heart disease research

Around 1.4 million Australians have a high chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years yet few are aware they’re at risk. 

The recent untimely deaths of retired cricketers Shane Warne and Rod Marsh, as well as politician Kimberley Kitching, has shown just how pervasive those risks can be.

Heart disease affects both men and women and is Australia's single leading cause of death*, which is why research into this area is crucial.

Research supported by Heart Research Australia (HROz) tackles the problem of heart disease from all angles: prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

HROz focuses on early-stage funding, allowing researchers to investigate whether their ideas will work and go on to potentially qualify for bigger government grants. 

One research project is using new technology to reduce the one-in-four patients who will develop heart damage after a heart attack, which leads to heart failure, resulting in disability and potentially death.

They’re collecting blood or skin samples which are changed into stem cells to create a bio-ink. They then use a 3D printer to create heart patches to regenerate parts of the heart that have died. 

In time, this could reduce the need for heart transplants. It may also improve the recovery and long-term prognosis of the 54,000 people who are hospitalised each year after a non-fatal heart attack.

Researchers are also investigating why there is a rise in seemingly healthy people having heart attacks – rising from 11% of people to 29% of people presenting to hospital with a heart attack or needing a stent.  

This subset of patients have no risk factors such as a family history of heart disease, smoking, diabetes, or being overweight. This project is using big data, new imaging technology, and omics technology to enable early identification and treatment. 

One of the aims of this project is to try to find bio-markers that could lead to a simple test – such as a blood test – to identify people at risk 10-15 years before they have a heart attack. This could help save the many lives.

Heart Research Australia relies on individual donors, bequests and project grants from trusts and foundations to fund this research, helping develop the next generation of treatments to keep families together for longer. 

Find out more:

*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Coronary heart disease. Canberra: AIHW 

This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.