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Heart Foundation research grants top $78 million on World Heart Day

The Heart Foundation today announced $4.2 million dollars of funding for heart research and specialist training for New Zealand cardiologists, bringing the total awarded by the charity since its formation in 1968, to more than $78 million dollars.

"We have a long and proud record of research investment, which has improved the heart health of all New Zealanders for more than 50 years, but we still have much more work to do," says Heart Foundation Medical Director, Dr Gerry Devlin.

"Heart disease is New Zealand's single biggest killer. With our ongoing commitment to supporting research, we can keep saving lives and improve the quality of life for the 170,000 New Zealanders living with heart disease."

This year the Heart Foundation has awarded research grants across the bench-to-bedside spectrum, including new treatments, structural interventions and prevention.

"The Heart Foundation is supporting so much exciting research in 2020. Research that will make a real difference to so many Kiwis," says Dr Devlin.

The Heart Foundation is proud to support leaders across all areas of medicine in Aotearoa, such as neonatal paediatrician Dr Sarah Harris, whose work will investigate the link between premature babies and heart disease.

"Emerging evidence shows adults who were born prematurely, and mothers who give birth to a premature baby, are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease but neither are included in our national guidelines for cardiovascular risk screening," says Dr Harris.

"The birth of a premature baby may be an opportunity to review cardiovascular risk for both mother and baby and to initiate an earlier programme of risk surveillance, health education and preventative care that could have intergenerational benefit."

This year a new grant to support nurses in the field of cardiology has also been introduced.

The new Nurse Practitioner Training Fellowship in Cardiovascular Disease, has been awarded to Mrs Edel Schick, enabling her to develop patient education and focus on disease prevention in the community.

The Heart Foundation is especially proud to make these announcements on World Heart Day and, with the support of SkyCity, to be able to light Auckland's Sky Tower red this evening, joining with our global heart community and paying tribute to all who have lost a loved one to heart disease.  

"We've come a long way, with a 75 per cent reduction in deaths from heart disease since we started our work. But heart disease still claims more than 6,000 lives in New Zealand each year and one preventable death is one too many," says Dr Devlin.  

The 2020 awards include 6 Project Grants, 3 Overseas Training and Research Fellowships, 6 Research Fellowships, 2 Māori Cardiovascular Research Fellowships, 4 Small Project Grants and 7 Summer Studentships.

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