New investment in India's heart health

Millions of Indians living with heart disease are set to receive a major boost, with Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council today announcing new funding for a cardiovascular research program focussed on India’s heart health. 

With other partners, The George Institute for Global Health will lead three key projects designed to prevent, treat and manage heart disease for from their bases in India and Australia. 

“We are honoured to have received funding for these vital projects, which will provide invaluable evidence to address the rise in cardiovascular disease in India and help provide healthcare solutions for her future.  These include a national salt reduction program, further investigations into affordable drug treatment strategies to treat hypertension and assessment of innovative smartphone healthcare technology”, said Professor Anushka Patel, Executive Director of The George Institute, India.

There is an estimated 30 million people with cardiovascular disease living in India today, however many more are at risk of developing conditions such as heart attack and stroke. 

The role of a high salt diet in rising blood pressure and in turn heart disease and stroke is well established. Researchers will survey salt consumption, identify salt contents in foods and form a major stakeholder campaign. The potential impact of a salt reduction program in India is enormous and is projected to have the same impact as smoking cessation initiatives.

Further investigation of a cheap three-in-one pill will assess the benefits to control blood pressure among poorly resourced communities. Researchers will ascertain if the simple treatment strategy is easier to follow among patients who traditionally discontinue complex and costly medications after a short period of time. 

As the prevalence of high blood pressure rises in India, so too does the stress on the local health system. The George Institute has developed an approach that empowers doctors and other healthcare workers in rural healthcare services by using affordable smart phone technology. The software is designed to improve the detection and management of hypertension and associated risk factors. Click on the video below to hear Dr David Peiris, the Principal Investigator, talk about HealthTracker, India.

The funding will contribute to an international initiative coordinated by the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease (GACD). The Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Research Grants are focused on developing solutions to reduce the impact of chronic disease via research dedicated to prevention and control of issues such as hypertension, diet and treatments. Australia is one of five major international contributors to this leading alliance. The funding also includes a focus on salt reduction in the Pacific Islands where researchers will obtain accurate baseline information to develop and evaluate interventions to reduce population sodium intake in Fiji and Samoa.