Big-hearted investment to save Australian lives

Awards and Achievements
The NSW Government has backed a bold new plan to become the premier state for heart disease with a $150 million funding package to fight the resurgence of the deadly condition.

Driven by the state’s leading cardiovascular research institutes, including the Heart Research Institute and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, the collaboration marks the first time the NSW cardiovascular medical research community has come to government with one voice and one vision. The result is an innovative capacity building program to fast track new treatments and prevention strategies that benefit the entire NSW heart disease sector. 

“Heart disease is back with a vengeance, and fuelled by diabetes and obesity, it’s attacking people at a younger age than ever before,” says Prof Shaun Jackson, Cardiovascular Specialist at the Heart Research Institute. “Through this significant investment, NSW will be at the cutting-edge of global heart research, preventing disease and saving lives.”

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is Australia’s leading health challenge, claiming about 43,000 lives a year – one Australian every 12 minutes. It’s also the most expensive to treat, costing the nation $7.7 billion a year in direct healthcare expenditure.

While the condition was once caused by rising levels of cholesterol, smoking and lack of exercise, these days it’s linked to rising rates of diabetes and obesity. Recent research confirms that for the first time in 60 years rates of death and disability from cardiovascular disease are on the rise, and claiming its victims at a younger age.

“The rates of childhood obesity are at such an alarming level, we can expect a tsunami of cardiovascular disease in the coming decades,” Prof Jackson warns.

“If this trend continues, today’s new parents may become the first generation to outlive their kids, a shocking reality no parent should have to face.”

More research is required to understand what can be done to save lives, prevent heart attacks and strokes, and minimise the disability associated with many of the complications of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including leg amputations and blindness.

The Cardiovascular Disease Research Capacity Building Program will confirm NSW as the leader in heart health research in Australia, supporting the state’s current world-renowned cardiovascular researchers and attracting fresh talent to the sector.

Prof Jackson says, “The investment of $150 million for cardiovascular research by the NSW Government is unprecedented and will have a major positive impact on the health and wellbeing of thousands of Australian families in the future.

“Equally historic, this exciting initiative was the brainchild of the HRI and VCCRI, and supported by the entire NSW cardiovascular community, signalling an unprecedented level of co-operation to tackle this major health problem.”

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