Funding boost secures future of life-saving study

THE University of Tasmania’s Menzies Research Institute has received more than $126,000 from the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) to continue a study that evaluates strategies for preventing cardiovascular disease in at-risk Tasmanian patients referred to the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) with chest pain.

The funding is part of the TCF’s latest grant round which has provided more than $3.61 million to 76 programs and projects across the state.

The grant will cover the employment of a registered nurse and administrative assistant to assist with the two-year study, following a pilot stage that commenced in 2014.

The project aims to guide a more intensive risk factor management strategy in patients referred to the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic (RACPAC) at the Royal Hobart Hospital, which was established in 2014.

Menzies Research Institute adjunct researcher Dr Andrew Black said Tasmania had the highest cardiovascular disease (CVD) death rate in Australia, with one quarter of all Tasmanians living with CVD – a disease that was largely preventable.

“The RACPAC was established to ensure that new patients referred to the RHH with chest pain were seen in an efficient and timely manner,” he said.

“However, 80 per cent of RACPAC referrals are expected to have a non-cardiac cause of chest pain but remain at higher baseline risk of future CVD due to factors including smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure.

“But this risk is not adequately addressed or managed in most outpatient clinics, which represents a missed opportunity to address the high CVD burden in our community.”

Significant demographic, medical and lifestyle data will be collected during the study to allow insights into the nature of CVD risk in Southern Tasmania.”

Dr Black said he was thrilled to receive the funding because there was significant evidence of transference of behaviour change between patients seen in a clinic and their immediate relatives, friends and colleagues.

“Although the direct benefit to individuals enrolled in the study is important, by far the most significant benefit will be to the Tasmanian community in general,” he said.

“Dissemination of information obtained during the study, including education of other healthcare providers and the community at large, will be undertaken by staff already employed by the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as risk factor management programs developed at other state hospitals, general practices and community organisations and workplaces.”

TCF chairwoman Lynn Mason said the TCF’s role was to help fund important projects that benefited the whole community.

“We were dismayed to be advised that Tasmania had the highest CVD death rate in the nation,” she said.

“The findings from this study not only have the potential to save a participant’s life, but also change the way cardiovascular disease is detected and treated in Tasmania.”

Applications for the Tasmanian Community Fund’s Grant Round 31 were opened on 25 July 2015.

For more information on how to apply for TCF grants and to view the grant recipients from Grant Round 30 please go to: www.tascomfund.org

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