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Improving the health outcomes of patients experiencing negative emotions after a heart attack
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Improving the health outcomes of patients experiencing negative emotions after a heart attack

Associate Professor Adrienne O'Neil, Institution: Deakin University

2016 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2017-2022


Depression and anxiety commonly co-occur with coronary heart disease (CHD) - both before and after a cardiac event. This relationship is particularly complicated. There is evidence that poor mental health following a cardiac event can contribute to another event, rehospitalisation and even death. Yet, we still have a lot to learn about how improving mental health might also improve these outcomes. Currently, it is difficult for clinicians to know how to best identify and treat cardiac patients with poor mental health or for patients to know how to self-manage their depression and/or anxiety to improve their heart health. Indeed, Australia’s health system is not very well equipped to provide ongoing, 24/7 support to people with CHD, much less conditions with which it commonly coexists like depression and anxiety. This project will identify and analyse mental health symptoms in 2 large groups of cardiac patients to create new knowledge that will help improve this situation. Second, this project will test a highly accessible program for cardiac patients who want ongoing support to self-manage their condition(s) after hospital discharge. This program has already been shown to successfully improve mood, lifestyle, and heart health of cardiac patients. The next step is to adapt, deliver & evaluate it using a platform that allows patients access via their everyday devices (phones, computers, tablets). The ultimate aim is to provide this program to all cardiac patients in Australia.

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