About Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease affects 2 out of 3 Australian families. Our mission is reduce the number of people dying and suffering from this disease.
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Hearts matter.

At first glance the human heart might appear like just a pump to move blood around the body. But it’s far more important than that. Beating on average 72 times a minute (every minute of our lives), our hearts pump blood that carries vital materials to help our bodies function, while simultaneously removing the waste products we don’t need.                
            
When our heart ceases to pump blood, our body begins to shut down. Then, after a very short period of time... we die.

Yes, hearts matter... a lot.

 

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What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease refers to all the diseases of the heart and circulation including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke. The primary cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis  – the narrowing and eventual blockage of arteries by the deposition of fatty plaques on the walls of the artery. Eventually these plaques can rupture – thrombosis – and the resultant blood clot deprives vital tissues of oxygen. If this happens in the major blood vessels supplying the heart, you have a heart attack. In the brain, you have a stroke. In the peripheral arteries, crippling pain can result in the chest, arm, neck or jaw (angina).  

By understanding the causes of atherosclerosis (diabetes, cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure and family history) we can better improve human health.

 

 

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease

90 per cent of Australians have one modifiable risk factor for heart disease.

Much of the burden caused by cardiovascular is preventable. The major modifiable risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insufficient physical activity, obesity, diabetes, poor nutrition, and excessive intake of alcohol. Other risk factors that are beyond our control include age, gender, family history and ethnicity.

Find out about Women and Heart DiseaseHeart Disease in Indigenous Communities

How our research is saving lives                

The Heart Research Institute is a medical research institute whose mission is to improve health by understanding the causes and complications of cardiovascular diseases. 

Although we have made great inroads in the 25 years since the Heart Research Institute was established, the job is not done yet. We are still striving for our ultimate goal of reducing the number of people who die from cardiovascular disease and to offer a better life for those who already suffer from the disease.

Heart research costs millions. No research costs more.

Donating to heart research helps give back time

Prevention

90 per cent of Australians have one modifiable risk factor for heart disease. We're investing in a future free from cardiovascular disease. 

Detection

Cardiovascular disease affects 2 in 3 families and tears families apart. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death. 

Treatment

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, killing 125 people every day. Today's research is tomorrow's cure. 

Help fund vital research into heart disease

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Latest news from our research labs

Meet the team: Imala Alwis

I'm Imala Alwis and I am a senior research officer at the Heart Research Institute, working in the Thrombosis group. Heart disease has affected me personally. My dad was in his mid fifties when he had triple bypass surgery. He led a very healthy lifestyle and he was only diagnosed during a routine medical check up.

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How to make a nourish plate

There are regularly times during the course of my week, when I get home from a long day of work and find myself with the conundrum of having to find something to eat. What I’ve found works a treat on these days is creating a nourish plate. This is simply a plate of whole foods, as many as I can muster up from my fridge and pantry, presented as a smorgasbord of variety!
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Meet the Team: Emily McCarthy

For the past two months, I have been on a scholarship offered by the HRI to New Zealand Undergraduate students, placed in the Thrombosis Group of the HRI. My passion for the biological sciences is something which I have been aware of for many years, but it has been through this experience that I have been able to get a glimpse of what a career in Biological Research will be like – and I love the way it looks!
Read more