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Improving cardiovascular disease prevention

Dr Ellie Paige, Institution: Australian National University

2018 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Years funded: 2019-2022


Cardiovascular disease (CVD), mainly made up of heart attacks and stroke, is the leading cause of death in Australia and globally. Most CVD events can be prevented by managing risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Effective treatments are available to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and are usually recommended for people at high risk of CVD.

This includes people with specific conditions, such as kidney disease, and people with more than a 1 in 7 chance of having a CVD event in the next five years. Australia’s guidelines recommend calculating CVD risk, for people aged 45-74 years, using absolute risk calculators which use information from multiple risk factors to estimate how likely a person is to have a CVD event in the next five years. Australia’s absolute CVD risk calculators are based on data from a 1950’s US population and tend to overestimate risk for present day Australians.

This research will use national data to statistically adjust the CVD risk calculator to more accurately predict CVD risk for Australians, allowing treatments to be better targeted to those with the greatest need. Additionally, a mathematical model will be created to estimate expected health outcomes of CVD risk screening in the Australian population, using different risk scores including the current and updated scores. The ultimate aim of this research is to reduce CVD events in Australia by improving absolute risk assessment.

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