Advancements made in treatment for heart disease

The federal government recently agreed to subsidise Coralan to make it available to more people.

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The medication is one of many developments in treatment for heart disease, which is incurable and accounts for more than 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia.

David Algie said his life changed dramatically after suffering a major heart attack.

“It’s a slow process and every time you get a twitch in your chest you think ‘oh my god’ and it’s really worrying,” he said.

The 65-year-old has a realistic view of the road ahead and so does his doctor, Andrew Sindone.

“More than half of the people in Australia will die of cardiovascular disease,” Dr Sindone said.

But despite the statistics he said the medical community was making progress in the area of treatment for heart disease.

“We are making some gains but there still is a lot of room to move,” he said.

Transplant technology

Fiona Coots had the first successful heart transplant in Australia 29 years ago and continues to beat the odds.

“To be still here so healthy is really amazing,” Ms Coots said.

Organ-donation rates have increased dramatically over the past few years but there simply are isn’t enough to meet a growing demand.

For every 1000 people in this country, only one is a potential donor and only 30 per cent of that one per cent will become a successful donor.

But new technology looks set to change these odds.

Cardiologist Peter Macdonald has created a way to reduce that damage once the heart is removed from the donor by keeping it working while waiting to be transplanted.

“The heart just isn’t able to withstand the insults that occur during the withdrawal of life support and just isn’t usable, Dr MacDonald said.

“We think this technology will allow us to utilise hearts from donors that we currently don’t consider suitable for heart transplant.”

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