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Heart attacks
research update

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects 4.2 million Australians. It’s expected by 2019, some 80,000 Australians will be admitted to hospital with acute coronary syndrome, with more than 55,500 suffering a heart attack. The major cause of heart attacks is atherosclerosis, a progressive disease of large arteries that culminates in the rupture of unstable (or ‘soft’) atherosclerotic plaque, which can lead to a blood clot, the abrupt blocking of the artery and acute, life-threatening heart attack (or stroke).

While deaths from heart disease in Australia have declined over the last decades, the rate of heart attacks has paradoxically increased, and, in NSW, the number of heart attacks has remained above the nation’s average. The annual cost to the Australian Government is around two billion dollars, of which ~75% is due to hospitalisation. To reduce these costs and save lives, it is important to prevent avoidable hospital admission and improve patient outcomes by targeting those most at risk of heart attack and by improving the diagnosis and treatment of high-risk people.

Scientists at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute are now getting to the core of what causes atherosclerosis, heart attack and other diseases affecting the blood vessels. Indeed, we are now trying to understand which genes play the greatest role in causing these diseases so we can develop better treatments.  

With help from generous donors, the team at the Institute will be able to continue this critical research that is breaking new ground in how we understand, diagnose and ultimately treat atherosclerosis. 

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