ANU research to help prevent heart attacks and strokes

The Australian National University (ANU) and the ACT Government are joining forces to improve the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in the local community.

In a new initiative announced today by ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris, a team of ANU experts have received $600,000 in ACT Government funding to conduct research that will ensure people at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease receive best-practice care.

The project will work with the ACT community to develop innovative on-the-ground ways to maximise health following a heart attack or stroke.

Project lead Professor Emily Banks from the ANU College of Health and Medicine thanked Minister Fitzharris for the funding.

“This significant funding boost will power important work to help the thousands of people who suffer a heart or stroke each year,” Professor Banks said.

“Heart attacks and strokes remain among our most important health problems, and we have huge amounts of evidence on how to live life to the fullest in those affected.

“However, we are falling short in applying that knowledge to bring about real change for the community. Evidence from the ACT will help to inform the rest of the world about how to best do that.

“Following a heart attack, one-in-four people are back in hospital with a cardiovascular disease emergency within two years. We also know many repeat heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with best-practice care, including cardiac rehabilitation, early and regular reviews in general practice and appropriate medication.

“This initiative will ensure the people at the highest risk – including survivors of heart attack and stroke, people with lower income and education, people with severe mental illness and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – receive the timely and targeted health interventions they need.”

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt thanked Minister Fitzharris and the ACT Government for supporting the taskforce and its vital work.

“Through its world-class research, ANU is committed to improving the lives of all Australians,” Professor Schmidt said.

“This initiative is an important first step in making the ACT an international leader in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”

The initiative includes a cardiovascular disease taskforce made up of survivors of heart attacks and stroke, general practitioners, cardiologists, neurologists, policymakers and public health experts.

The project team brings together researchers from the ANU Research School of Population Health, the ANU Medical School and the Heart Foundation.

Heart Foundation ACT CEO Tony Stubbs welcomed the ACT Government’s funding and the new initiative.

“This initiative and its important work will make sure the people in our community at highest risk of repeat heart attacks and strokes get the care and prevention they desperately need.

“We know what we need to do to stop the toll of heart attacks and strokes. We’ve just got to get on and do it. This will make that task a lot easier.”

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