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Major funding boost to improve heart health, diabetes and healthier eating

JULY 2018

Communities across the Hunter and New England regions will benefit from enhanced healthcare, with four local projects receiving funding through the highly competitive NSW Health Translational Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) to improve cardiovascular disease outcomes, diabetes prevention and healthy food options for families.

Recipients include Professor Andrew Boyle, Professor John Attia, Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov, and Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden, who also conduct research in collaboration with the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)*.

Professor John Attia – Implementation of a new model of care for pre-diabetic patients: can we prevent progression?

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Professor John Attia was granted $662,000 for his project ‘Implementation of a new model of care for pre-diabetic patients: can we prevent progression?’, which aims to implement a new, evidence-based model of care for diabetes prevention and to help people manage their own health.

Previous research has found that two million Australian’s have prediabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition to lifestyle intervention, zinc supplementation has been found to reduce insulin resistance, which is supported by evidence from two different meta-analyses of 25 small-scale randomised controlled trials and other studies.

Working through an innovative model of partnership between two LHDs and GPs, 410 people aged 40-70 years with prediabetes will be recruited and a randomised controlled trial will be conducted. The control group will receive the existing and effective NSW Health Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service for diabetes prevention, and a placebo capsule, while the intervention group will receive the same lifestyle intervention, plus a 30mg daily elemental zinc capsule. Outcomes over 12 months will include measures of adherence, insulin resistance and glycaemic markers, lipids, other CVD risk factors, and cost-effectiveness.

Professor Andrew Boyle – Management of Rural Acute Coronary Syndrome (MORACS)

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Professor Andrew Boyle was granted $651,155 for his project ‘Management of Rural Acute Coronary Syndrome (MORACS)’, which aims to define a new paradigm for assessment and management of Acute Coronary Syndrome in rural settings.

This comes off the back of findings that one third of patients presenting to Australian hospitals with STEMI (Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) do not receive standard primary reperfusion treatment. This treatment involves thrombolysis (pharmacological treatment), which if delivered in a timely fashion, has similar outcomes to surgical intervention. Misdiagnosis of treatment increases mortality/morbidity rates, readmission rates and length of hospital stays, which is overrepresented in rural hospitals.

This project will randomise small rural hospitals, referring patients for usual care or mandated advice from a central hub service. This central hub service will then channel patients into existing ACS management structures. The main outcome will be the difference in diagnosis of patients at rural hospitals across two LHDs: HNELHD and South Western Sydney LHD.

Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov – Improving Outcomes Following Hospitalisation for Heart Failure in Regional and Remote NSW

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Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov was granted $476,376 for his project entitled ‘Improving Outcomes Following Hospitalisation for Heart Failure in Regional and Remote NSW’, which aims to intervene at a primary care level to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs by reducing preventable admissions.

In NSW alone, heart failure healthcare costs are estimated at $1bn/year, mainly related to hospitalisation costs. NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) has identified HF service delivery as a key area for improvement.

The focus of this project is to improve timely diagnosis and treatment, through the implementation of a GP education ‘masterclass’, involving NT-proBNP monitoring, patient-centred daily HF diary and home-based HF exercise program.

Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden – Swap What’s Packed in the Lunchbox (SWAP-It)

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Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden was granted $560,358 for his project ‘Swap What’s Packed in the Lunchbox (SWAP-It)’, which aims to develop and pilot an online healthy lunchbox intervention.

Studies show that children consume a third of their daily energy intake at school, with many items being energy-dense and nutrient poor. The main issue with current approaches to improving foods packed for children, is an inability to effectively reach parents. This project will see a partnership with the leading provider of an online school communication platform in NSW to communicate with parents (accessing 1550 schools and approximately 465,000 children). 

The primary aim of this study is to assess, via a randomised controlled trial, the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an intervention that makes use of an existing online communication provider to improve the kilojoule content from discretionary foods and drinks packed in a child’s lunchbox.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District – Evaluating two healthy eating and active living support programs for parents of two to six year old children

Murrumbidgee Local Health District has teamed up with HNE Investigator and Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden, for their project ‘Evaluating two healthy eating and active living support programs for parents of two to six year old children’. The project will assess the effectiveness of Time2bHealthy (online) and Healthy Habits (telephone-based), and has been granted $961,639 in funding.

Sydney Children’s Hospital Network – eADVICE - Advice while you wait: Empowering families, improving health, reducing waiting times

Sydney Children’s Hospital Network has teamed up with HNE Investigator Dr Aniruddh Deshpande for their project ‘eADVICE - Advice while you wait: Empowering families, improving health, reducing waiting times’. The project has received $493,706 in funding and will evaluate eADVICE (electronic Advice and Diagnosis via the Internet following Computerised Evaluation), an interactive eHealth program that provides treatment advice to patients, supervised by their general practitioner (GP), while they are awaiting a specialist appointment. This project will facilitate the exchange of information between the child, parents and specialists using a virtual character (“avatar”), enabling assessment, diagnosis and provision of individualised treatment advice.

 

*HMRI is a partnership between Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle and the community. 

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