New prevention and treatment approaches for heart disease with digital health

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A new agreement between Australian digital health company Cardihab and the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute will focus on supporting new clinical trials to address the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The five-year agreement will involve several clinical trials and cohort studies that provide evidence of the effectiveness of digital approaches to cardiovascular disease management, rehabilitation, prevention and treatment.

Cardihab is an Australian digital health platform that facilitates the virtual delivery of cardiac rehabilitation and chronic disease management programs for patients recovering from cardiac events and living with heart disease.

Patients use Cardihab apps to complete their cardiac rehabilitation program virtually while under clinical supervision by qualified healthcare professionals.

Cardihab CEO Helen Souris said it was the first widespread research program to be conducted in Australia using broader applications of Cardihab’s digital health platform.

“The outcomes of these clinical trials and studies will impact on the lives of more than 4.2 million people with heart or vascular disease around the country,” said Ms Souris.

“It will further demonstrate how digital health is delivering options for rehabilitation and secondary prevention that improve patient choice leading to greater uptake and better outcomes.

“Digital solutions that empower patients to proactively manage their health while reducing the pressure on hospitals and staff are essential given the burden of disease and vulnerability of patients, particularly during COVID-19 constraints.

"Clinically validated digital health programs are vital for people who cannot attend traditional face-to-face clinics, people living in regional and remote areas and patients who are less mobile.”

Ms Souris said there was a significant need for risk-guided rehabilitation programs for people who survive cancer but develop cardiovascular disease associated with cancer treatment.

As cancer therapies and survival have improved, millions of patients treated with cardiotoxic therapy are now cancer survivors. In Australia, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of non-cancer death in cancer survivors, and 8 per cent of deaths are from heart failure (HF) that occurs in 18 per cent of cancer survivors.

“There are a number of cardioprotective strategies that can be implemented to support patients during and after their cancer treatment,” Ms Souris said. 

“Risk-guided Digital cardiac rehabilitation as part of a program of care could be an effective solution that helps manage heart problems in cancer patients and assist in improving their quality of life,” said Ms Souris. “Digital solutions such as Cardihab will enable clinicians to deliver individualised and tailored support for cancer patients at risk with the ability to monitor their care without the need for regular face-to-face consultations.”

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Professor Tom Marwick said the organisation is committed to secondary prevention and ensuring people who had a cardiovascular event like a heart attack did not suffer another one.

"Solutions which support patients to self-manage chronic long-term conditions such as cardiovascular disease, particularly during challenging COVID-19 lockdowns, are important," said Professor Marwick.

“The evidence shows that cardiac rehabilitation optimises patient outcomes and reduces cardiovascular risks, and we need to make it as easy and accessible as possible to ensure participation.”