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Recovery after critical illness from cardiovascular failure

Professor Carol Hodgson, Institution: Monash University

2016 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2017-2020


Each year around 130,000 Australians are admitted to an intensive care unit. The sickest patients in the ICU who have severe failure of the heart may require an external device to pump and oxygenate their blood. These interventions include the use of extracoporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) which involves circulating all of the patient’s blood through large cannulae to external machinery every minute. It has the capability of completely replacing a non-functioning heart for days to weeks on end.

The use of ECMO has doubled in Australia and globally over a decade, particulalry in patients following a cardiac arrest, acute heart failure or as a bridge to a heart transplant. ECMO patients cost on average AUD $143,051 per admission or AUD $28 million annually. Of great importance to this submission, more patients are surviving but survivors have compromised functional recovery for months or years. The aims of this research is to improve the long term survivorship and quality of survivorship for patients admitted to ICU with cardiovasuclar failure.

The outcomes of this research program will, for the first time in Australia,
  1. provide an accurate measure of the burden of recovery following admission to ICU for cardiovascular failure
  2. deliver new interventions during the critical illness to improve the quality of survival and
  3. reduce health care, community and societal costs
  4. build international collaborations to develop guidelines for the care of these patients.

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