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Completed Project

Strategies to improve heart disease outcomes in Australian women

Investigators from Blacktown/Mt Druitt Hospitals: Prof Robert Denniss, Robert Zecchin, Evelyn Siachico, Maria Rull, Susan Te Whaiti and Karen McNulty*.

Investigators from University of Technology Sydney: Angela Rao PhD Candidate, A/Prof Michelle DiGiacomo, Prof Phillip Newton and Prof Patricia M. Davidson.

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project

Heart disease is the major killer of Australian women, yet many women remain unaware and underestimate their risk. Heart disease occurs more commonly in older women who face numerous other health and social life changes, yet few participate in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs. Building on previous work of the project team, this project tested a novel CR program designed specifically for women. In this project, we employed a gender based approach to: (1) undertake a systematic review to identify strategies to improve women's heart health at the level of patient, provider and system level; and (2) complete a randomised controlled trial of a CR program designed for women. The systematic review was published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention in 2018 and highlighted common elements of positive CR models for women. The pragmatic controlled trial carried out at Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals randomised 94 women to the intervention and usual care groups. Six-minute walk test, self-efficacy, and anxiety and depression, and participant attendance in CR sessions were assessed at six weeks and six months post-intervention. Results will be dissemination in 2019 along with features of CR programs that were identified to increase feasibility of engagement by staff and consumers.

Publications to date:

Rao, A., Newton, P, DiGiacomo, M., Hickman, L., Hwang, C., & Davidson, P.M. (2018). Optimal gender specific strategies for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in women: a systematic review, Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention 38(5), 279-285.

Presentations to date:

Rao, A., Newton, P.J, DiGiacomo, M., Hickman, L.D., Hwang, C., & Davidson, P.M. 2016. Which gender specific cardiac rehabilitation models best reduce cardiovascular risk in women? 21st ICOWHI Congress. Scale and Sustainability: Moving Women’s Health Issues Forward. 6-9th November 2016, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


Robert Zecchin RN MN (Cardiac)
NUM- Area Cardiac Rehabilitation WSLHD
President – ACRA NSW/ACT

*Aboriginal Health worker in Cardiac Rehabilitation

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