New clinical trials facility aims to reduce soaring rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in high-risk areas
A research facility in Melbourne’s outer west that is trialling innovative interventions to reduce soaring rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in the community will be officially opened by the Member for Werribee, Minister Tim Pallas, on Friday, 26 March.
The Hoppers Crossing facility, run by researchers and clinicians from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, is trialling new ways to detect disease early using genetic data, an e-health app to stop heart attacks from reoccurring, and new screening and medications to prevent the progression of heart failure.
The facility will enable people like Tarneit resident, Chris Brown, 66, to be armed with greater knowledge about her heart health. Chris, who has recently retired from working in the financial services industry, is taking part in a study to determine if coronary artery disease can be detected early by including a genetic risk assessment. She was motivated to take part after her brother was found to have several serious heart blockages more than a year ago, despite having no symptoms. An angiogram revealed his arteries were so badly blocked the body had built its own bypass system. Luckily, her brother didn’t suffer an event like a heart attack but he came very close.
Data from the Heart Foundation showed more people are dying of heart attacks in Melbourne’s west than anywhere else in the city’s metropolitan area.
Baker Institute Director, Professor Tom Marwick said the primary goal of the new Clinical Trial and Research Centre was to find better ways to keep people out of hospital and living healthier for longer in the community. The Baker Institute conducts a number of clinical studies in high-risk and disadvantaged communities, and Professor Marwick said it was critical to go where the need was and trial new approaches to reduce rising rates of chronic disease.
“If we can support people to avoid a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or help them to manage their heart disease so that they don’t suffer another heart attack or stroke, then this approach could become a model for high-risk communities nationally,” Professor Marwick said.
The Clinical Trial and Research Centre recently received a $500,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Community Support Fund, which is funding the purchase of much needed medical and exercise equipment.
Treasurer and Member for Werribee Tim Pallas said the equipment would be used to improve the health of people in Melbourne’s west and decrease the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. “This complements the health investment being made by the Andrews Labor Government across one of the fastest growing areas of our city, with new hospitals earmarked for Footscray and Melton.”
Trials being conducted at the Hoppers Crossing facility in 2021 include:
Using genetic, metabolic and coronary calcium risk scoring for early prediction of coronary artery disease, targeted at friends and family of people with heart disease.
Testing a new drug for people with early-stage or asymptomatic diabetes to avoid heart failure, a common long-term complication of the condition.
- Risk-Guided DMP
Improving secondary prevention and survivorship after a coronary event through enhanced disease management, including an e-health app to deliver cardiac rehab.
New screening program to help those 10-plus years on from a cancer diagnosis better understand and address the potential toxic impact of cancer treatment on their heart.
- VIC ELF
Special screening to identify people with pre-symptomatic heart failure to allow intervention before the disease progresses to a serious stage.
Plans are also underway for research studies to look at the long-term cardiac changes from COVID-19, and examine how exercise training might help lessen any negative impacts.
The Clinical Trial and Research Centre is located at the HeartWest cardiology facility in Heaths Road, Hoppers Crossing.