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13 October 2022

Institute news

Generations on a beach

Todd Woodbridge is the latest “fit and healthy” sports star to have a heart attack and is urging everyone to look at their family history and have heart health checks to reduce their potential risk.

Woodbridge had chest pain while exercising and hospital tests showed he’d had a mild heart attack. When doctors asked about his family history, he revealed immediate family members had required stents and had high cholesterol. Woodbridge, who had delayed having regular heart health checks and had no early warning signs of heart attack, found his cholesterol was also high.

“Family history is a very significant risk factor for heart attack,” Professor Tom Marwick said. “Having a healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, eating well and exercising frequently, can help reduce risk but your genes also play a very important role. But this risk is treatable - genes are not destiny!”

“Knowing your risks, having regular health checks and not delaying treatment could be the difference between a good outcome like Todd’s and significant heart disease or even death.”

We are currently recruiting participants to the EDCAD-PMS study. This study uses family history as part of the process for determining your risk of heart disease. Participation involves a free health assessment and may include a heart scan.

“We are using a genetic risk score as part of risk evaluation,” Prof Marwick said. “We hope to use these scores to predict if there is calcium in the arteries, which indicates the presence of plaque.

“Heart disease has been Australia’s number one killer for decades, but we’re hoping that using tools like this genetic risk score can help us to better understand heart disease risk and lead to better ways to prevent, detect and treat the condition before heart attacks strike.”

If you are interested in participating in the EDCAD-PMS study, are aged between 40 and 70 and live in Victoria or Tasmania, apply online or contact the team on (03) 8532 1135 or edcad@baker.edu.au.

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