Why do young apparently healthy people keep dying of heart disease?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In four decades of public campaigns about the benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise, Australia’s rate of heart disease has come down by more than 70% but still it’s our biggest killer.

Girish DwivediIn a major step toward reducing fatal heart attacks the Perkins, with the generosity of Wesfarmers, has brought to Australia one of the few heart specialists in the world with expertise in using a range of sophisticated cardiac imaging technology. His work has the potential to accurately predict which patients are likely to suffer a heart attack.

“The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has a reputation for cutting edge research and we are very pleased to announce WA’s first Wesfarmers Chair in Cardiovascular Disease, Professor Girish Dwivedi, a leading cardiologist who will establish a cardiovascular disease laboratory at the Perkins”, said Director, Professor Peter Leedman.

Professor Dwivedi utilises the latest imaging techniques with the capacity to identify the signals in some plaques that indicate it is about to rupture and cause a heart attack.

“We know the most common cause of heart disease and stroke is the build-up of plaque in arteries, but the key is knowing how to identify whether the plaque will remain stable and be harmless or rupture and cause a heart attack.

“Most people don’t realise how common heart disease is, for women as well as men. In fact Australian women are almost three times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer,” Professor Leedman said.

As part of the Perkins approach to connect research with patient treatment, Professor Dwivedi will work both as a lead researcher in the Perkins laboratories and practice as a cardiologist at the Fiona Stanley Hospital. 

“His arrival in Perth from Canada is a big step in making sure WA is on the map in cardiac research.

“Professor Dwivedi’s research is definitely cutting edge. It will be a major breakthrough if a cost effective and safe technique of scanning patients can be developed that identifies the plaque likely to rupture,” said Professor Leedman.

“His research is also relevant for patients suffering cancers, including breast and blood cancers, because the radiation typically used to treat cancers can lead to a build-up of plaque in coronary arteries.

“We are very grateful to Wesfarmers, the founding benefactor of the Perkins, whose support has enabled us to establish the Wesfarmers Chair in Cardiovascular Disease and bring to Perth such an outstanding cardiologist and researcher,” Professor Leedman said.


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