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Investigating athletes’ hearts to advance prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease

 

The research interests of the Sports Cardiology Laboratory extend beyond the study of athletes. The main theme can be summarised as: exertional symptoms require assessment during exertion. Reflecting the fact that resting studies of heart function are a poor surrogate of functional limitation. The laboratory uses novel echocardiographic and CMR methodologies for assessment of heart function (with a particular interest in the right ventricle and pulmonary circulation) during exercise. These are applied to projects in the assessment of heart failure, congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension and athletes.

Another focus is to assess the long-term impact of high-intensity endurance sports activity. This requires a comprehensive understanding of the effects of exercise on the heart and long-term epidemiological studies.

Research focus

  • Interaction between exercise and heart disease.
  • Cardiac remodelling in athletes.
  • Exercise cardiac imaging.
  • Exercise-induced arrhythmias.
  • Right heart and pulmonary vascular function.

Projects

Pro@Heart
The Prospective Athlete Heart Study: elucidating genetic determinants of cardiac remodelling using endurance exercise as an environmental stress

Leader: Andre La Gerche

Pro@Heart is an international prospective longitudinal study which will detail the evolution of exercise-induced cardiac remodelling ("athlete's heart") amongst elite junior endurance athletes. The study will quantify individual variance in the extent and rate of development of athlete's heart, identify its genetic determinants and assess clinical outcomes. Pro@Heart will be conducted over 25 years thus enabling the long-term health benefits of endurance sports training to be assessed using robust clinical end-points.

The Breast MagEX study
Identification of chemotherapy-induced cardiac damage using novel exercise magnetic resonance imaging in breast cancer patients

Leader: Andre La Gerche

Breast cancer patients undergoing standard anthracycline-based adjuvant chemotherapy will undergo specialised testing with exercise cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (Ex-CMR) combined with cardiopulmonary testing (VO2max). This will be performed prior to and at completion of chemotherapy. These measures will be compared with biochemical measures of cardiac damage and standard resting measures of cardiac function. We hypothesise that exercise CMR will detect anthracycline-induced cardiac damage when traditional measures do not.

Diabetic HufnPuf study
Pulmonary microvascular pathology as a cause of exercise limitation in diabetics: identification with a novel echocardiographic contrast technique and treatment with sildenafil

Leader: Andre La Gerche

The research project is attempting to further understand the factors which lead to reduced exercise capacity in patients with diabetes by investigating the functional role of the blood vessels in the lungs. In addition, the research is testing whether a treatment with sildenafil citrate (also known as Viagra®) can improve exercise capacity by improving the function of the blood vessels in the lungs and improve exercise capacity.

Staff

Dr Maria Brosnan
Kristel Janssens (Research Nurse)

Support us

With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

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