Funding to improve treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke patients

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Health minister Greg Hunt has announced, together with the National Heart Foundation, $12 million for research to improve the treatment of people, including children, suffering cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The funding will be provided over four years from the Medical Research Future Fund’s Cardiovascular Health Mission to advance on the nation’s two biggest killers.

The ten-year $220 million Cardiovascular Health Mission is funding research that drives improvements in cardiovascular health and stroke.

The National Stroke Foundation will receive $4 million for research into better diagnosis and treatment of children who suffer stroke. It will receive another $4 million from the federal government, matched by $4 million from the Foundation itself, for research into four areas of clinical practice to improve identification and management of cardiovascular disease.

The National Stroke Foundation’s research aims to achieve a paradigm shift in acute stroke care for Australian children, greatly improving survival rates.

Each year up to 600 Australian children suffer a stroke. One in 20 dies and more than half of the survivors experience long-term impairments. A major reason is delays in the diagnosis of stroke in children.

The Stroke Foundation will partner with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to design and implement a world-first national Paediatric Acute Code Stroke (PACS) protocol, using innovative decision support tools and advanced imaging technologies.

The protocol will provide guidance to medical professionals on diagnosis of paediatric stroke, to increase the number of children aged from one month to 18 years who are diagnosed within 4.5 hours of their incident. This is the critical time period for reperfusion therapy (which restores the flow of blood to the brain), which is crucial to recovery.

The project will also involve leading researchers from the areas of paediatric and adult stroke, emergency, haematology, neuroimaging, biostatistics, design science and health economics.

These were identified as priority areas for research by Australians living with heart disease, consumers, researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders involved in heart health.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease in Australia have fallen by almost 70 per cent over the past three decades, mainly through better detection, prevention and management.

However, the disease still affects around one in five Australians, and in 2016 was the underlying cause in around 28 per cent of all deaths.