A unique research facility in Melbourne’s outer west is trialling innovative disease management programs to reduce soaring rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in the community.
The new facility in Hoppers Crossing, run by researchers and clinicians from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, will trial new ways to detect disease early using genetic data, an e-health app to stop heart attacks from reoccurring, and new screening and medications to prevent the progression of heart failure.
Baker Institute Director Tom Marwick said the primary goal of the new Clinical Trial and Research Centre was to find better ways to keep people out of hospital and living healthier for longer in the community.
Recent data from the Heart Foundation showed more people are dying of heart attacks in Melbourne’s west than anywhere else in the city’s metropolitan area, and the Local Government Area of Wyndham reports one of the highest rates of diabetes in the state.
The region also has the highest rates of obesity (35%) and physical inactivity (72%) in metro Melbourne, two of the biggest predictors for both heart disease and diabetes.
The Baker Institute conducts a number of clinical studies in high-risk and disadvantaged communities, and Professor Marwick said it was critical to go where the need was and trial new approaches to reduce rapidly rising rates of chronic disease.
“If we can support people to avoid a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or help them to manage their heart disease so that they don’t suffer another heart attack or stroke, then this approach could become a model for high-risk communities across the country,” Professor Marwick said.
“We want to harness new technology and the brain power of our clinicians and researchers to prevent disease or complications before people end up in hospital.”
The Clinical Trial and Research Centre recently received a $500,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Community Support Fund, which will fund the purchase of much needed medical and exercise equipment.
Treasurer and Member for Werribee Tim Pallas said the equipment will be used to improve the health of people in Melbourne’s west and decrease the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
“This complements the health investment being made by the Andrews Labor Government across one of the fastest growing areas of our city, with new hospitals earmarked for Footscray and Melton.”
Trials being conducted at the Hoppers Crossing facility into 2021 include:
Using genetic, metabolic and coronary calcium risk scoring for early prediction of coronary artery disease, targeted at friends and family of people with heart disease.
Testing a new drug for people with early-stage or asymptomatic diabetes to avoid heart failure, a common long-term complication of the condition.
- Risk-Guided DMP
Improving secondary prevention and survivorship after a coronary event through enhanced disease management, including an e-health app to deliver cardiac rehab.
New screening program to help those 10-plus years on from a cancer diagnosis better understand and address the potential toxic impact of cancer treatment on their heart.
- VIC ELF
Special screening to identify people with pre-symptomatic heart failure to allow intervention before the disease progresses to a serious stage.
There are also plans for research studies to look at the long-term cardiac changes from COVID-19, and examine how exercise training might help lessen any negative impacts, with Wyndham recording the highest number of coronavirus cases of any Melbourne LGA (2267).
The Clinical Trial and Research Centre is located on the first floor of the new HeartWest cardiology facility in Heaths Road, Hoppers Crossing, which operates cardiology services across the western and northern corridors of Melbourne.
Trial participants will be drawn both from the community and from the cardiology service giving convenient access for Wyndham residents, and those in surrounding areas, to state-of-the-art therapeutic approaches.