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Sydney scientists at the heart of cardiovascular research

27 October 2015

Three University of Sydney academics have been awarded Research Development Project Grants to further their innovative research and collaborations in cardiovascular health.

The grants support research into the use of technologies such as smart phones and text messaging services to improve detection, prevention and patient care for cardiovascular events, as well as the development of a world-first method to more accurately detect high blood pressure in children.

The Research Development Project Grants were awarded last night by NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Jillian Skinner MP at the annual NSW Cardiovascular Research Network (CVRN) Showcase.

Recipients include Dr Lis Neubeck from Sydney Nursing School and Charles Perkins Centre,  Associate Professor Julie Redfern of Sydney Medical School and the George Institute for Global Health, and Associate Professor Michael Skilton of Sydney Medical School and the Boden Institute.

Cardiovascular disease remains a major health concern for NSW claiming the lives of women, men and children. Thirty per cent of all deaths in NSW are currently attributable to cardiovascular disease, and the disease is a major cost to our health system. 

The Heart Foundation’s NSW Chief Executive, Kerry Doyle said there is great power in supporting collaboration between researchers.

“The NSW CVRN is vital in optimising our research capabilities by pooling research knowledge, resources and nurturing and retaining talent, particularly rising talent, in our State.”

“In NSW, we have some of the most innovative and outstanding researchers who are tackling cardiovascular disease head-on. We are actively supporting them to realise their full potential and ultimately, deliver break through research and substantive health outcomes” Ms Doyle said.

Project details

Dr Lis Neubeck’s grant will support her work on stroke prevention through smartphone screening for atrial fibrillation in general practice. Atrial fibrillation affects five percent of people over 65 and while early identification has been shown to prevent strokes, screening is rarely implemented. The project will investigate if the smartphone electrocardiograph (iECG) pioneered by Dr Neubeck and colleagues can be incorporated into practice nurses workflow.

Associate Professor Julie Redfern and partners will be investigating if a simple and affordable text messaging program could be used to educate, motivate and maintain a patient’s connection with chronic care services after hospital discharge. The researchers hope the program will improve adherence to chronic disease management plans and ultimately reduce hospital readmissions. 

Associate Professor Michael Skilton and team aim to calculate a mathematical formula that will enable health practitioners, including family GPs, to screen for high blood pressure in a child’s aorta – the main artery that leaves the heart. Blood pressure in this artery more closely predicts risk of developing heart disease than blood pressure measured in the arm, however there is currently no way to detect this in children. 



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