Cardiovascular Health

Despite the fact that cardiovascular disease remains Australia’s biggest killer, associated death rates have dropped significantly since the 1960s. This is mainly due to the development of effective prevention, detection and management methods.

The HMRI Cardiovascular Health Program works across holistic, systemic, cellular and molecular levels so as to contribute to ongoing improvements in these strategies. The Program is focussed on cardiopulmonary disease and control mechanisms, drug toxicity and the modification of physical activity and nutrition behaviours. This research aims to reduce of the incidence of cardiovascular disease and to improve quality of life for cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disease patients.

In recent years, researchers have developed a number of early intervention strategies, wherein members of the community have been recruited to trial cardiovascular health improvement programmes. These include SHED-IT (Self-Help, Exercise, Diet and Information Technology), Healthy Dads and Healthy Kids, ATLAS (Active Teen Leaders Avoiding Screen Time) and NEAT Girls (Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls).

These studies have not only benefitted the local participants, but they also demonstrate the significant role of preventative medicine techniques in cardiovascular health improvement.

Significant clinical advances have been made including: a novel means to combat a life threatening heart arrhythmia termed Cardio-pulmonary ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT); advances in understanding heart fibrosis; stem cell therapy for heart attack patients; novel therapies for heart failure and cardiac toxicity of drugs in overdose.

Research within the Cardiovascular Health Program includes biomedical, clinical toxicology, public health and education research, clinical trials of new cardiovascular treatments and investigating novel treatments and interventions in the key areas of:

  • Cardiac physiology (heart-lung interaction, vascular & lymphatic function and disorders, and clinical toxicology)
  • Cardiac failure and fibrosis.
  • Novel treatment programs for patients acutely suffering a heart attack
  • Cardiovascular device development
  • Nutraceuticals and Nutrition
  • Physical Activity
  • Obesity and Diabetes

Researcher in the Program are committed to improving the cardiovascular health of people in the Hunter New England region and beyond. Many of the researchers in the program are affiliated with the University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition and they collaborate with many other disciplines within the Hunter New England region.

Program Leaders: Professor Dirk van Helden and Professor Ron Plotnikoff, The University of Newcastle

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