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12 April 2023

Institute news

NHMRC Joint International Scheme funding

The Baker Institute is delighted to receive funding for two important research projects to tackle cardiometabolic risk in young people and the trial of a new model of care for cognitively impaired patients with heart failure as part of the NHMRC Joint International Scheme.

Professor Brian Oldenburg will lead a $1.5 million study involving structured health interventions in tribal communities in Northeast India to reduce cardiometabolic risk among adolescents and young adults. This five-year study is part of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Scheme and the study will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from CMC Vellore in India.

They will focus their efforts on Meghalaya, a hilly state in Northeast India where the Khasi Indigenous people make up 50 per cent of the population. Traditionally, tribal populations who live in rural India were presumed to have a healthy lifestyle. However, research has demonstrated that this is no longer the case with overweight/obesity at 21 per cent, smoking among men at 54 per cent, hypertension at 22 per cent and diabetes at 11 per cent.

Professor Oldenburg, who holds a joint position as Professor of Public health and Implementation Science at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and La Trobe University, says the population is not well equipped to deal with the rapid transition from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Given the enormous health challenges facing the community, he says they will co-design, implement, and evaluate a multi-level, multi-component and scalable intervention with communities and families, to improve the cardiometabolic health of indigenous young people in rural Meghalaya.

They will identify factors that influence program implementation and its potential for future scale-up, as well as determining cost-effectiveness of the program to see how it might be applied to other communities around the world.

Cardiologist and researcher, Dr Quan Huynh will lead a $500,000 three-year study to test the feasibility and effectiveness of an innovative model of care for cognitively impaired patients with heart failure. This collaborative funding scheme is supported by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

Dementia and heart disease frequently co-exist due to shared disease processes and pathological mechanisms. Although patients with cognitive impairment and heart failure have the highest risk of developing dementia and adverse events, very little guidance is provided in guidelines for how best to manage these patients.

Building on findings from our cognitive and heart failure research, Dr Huynh has developed an innovative model of healthcare delivery program for cognitively impaired patients with heart failure.

“The intervention involves a nurse-led Disease Management Program to support transition to home care, post-discharge education on disease risks, telehealth monitoring, planned medication support and a digitally enabled cardiac rehabilitation program,” he says.

Dr Huynh says this program aims to improve cognition, reduce dementia risk and cardiovascular events, and will be supported by innovative technology for wide scale rollout and implementation.

He says these findings will transform the way healthcare is delivered to cognitively-impaired patients with heart disease, and substantially reduce dementia in Australia and Japan.

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