26 August 2015

Volunteers sought for heart health study

Healthy Western Australians with a family history of heart disease are being encouraged to consider volunteering for an important new study that could help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) in families with such a history.

The study, which will get underway at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) shortly, is part of a National Health and Medical Research Council-funded trial that will be conducted in several states.

Professor Gerald Watts, Head of the Lipid Disorders Clinic at RPH, who is leading the trial in WA, said that many heart attacks were the result of an inherited predisposition to CAD.

“However unless a person is found to have high levels of cholesterol in their blood, we cannot be sure how best to treat them.

“This trial will determine whether a scan (to look directly at the heart) and the prescription of a simple medication may offer the best form of preventative therapy,” he said.

Professor Watts said prospective volunteers would need to:

  • be aged between 35 and 70 years
  • be healthy and have no heart problems
  • have a close family member who – before turning 60 – had a heart attack, a coronary stent inserted or underwent heart surgery
  • not be taking a statin (cholesterol-lowering drug).

Professor Watts said the study would compare two pathways of care – routine care (normal care provided by the participant’s regular GP) and guided care (a closely monitored form of care based on a heart calcium score in which the participant would be given advice on diet, exercise and cholesterol-lowering medication).

Those who meet initial prerequisites for the trial will undergo a heart (CT) scan to determine their calcium scores (a measure of the calcium build-up in their arteries and an indicator of coronary risk) but only those found to be of low or medium risk will be eligible for the study.

The study meets strict ethical and governance requirements and all participants will receive optimal care under current best-practice guidelines.

Professor Watts said those who volunteered for the study would be making an important contribution to science and advancing the care and treatment of people with serious heart problems.

Anyone interested in participating should telephone 9224 0388, fax 9224 0329 or email The University of Western Australia.

Media contact: 9222 4333

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