Queensland-based digital health firm Cardihab and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, a medical research organisation in Melbourne, have signed a five-year agreement to jointly conduct clinical trials and cohort studies to deliver evidence of the effectiveness of digital approaches to cardiovascular disease management, rehabilitation, prevention and treatment.

The research programme will see wide applications of Cardihab's digital health platform in Australia. Cardihab virtually delivers cardiac rehabilitation services to people recovering from a heart event; its platform also enables chronic disease management.

WHY IT MATTERS

The clinical trials will delve into the application of digital cardiac rehabilitation in new areas such as cardio-oncology.

The partners noted in their press statement that there is a "significant need" for risk-guided rehabilitation programmes for cancer survivors who have developed cardiovascular diseases associated with cancer treatment. They said 18% of cancer survivors in Australia die from heart failure.

The European Association of Preventive Cardiology has recognised cardiac rehabilitation as a cost-effective intervention that reduces cardiovascular mortality, morbidity and disability.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology highlighted that cardiac rehabilitation can bring down over a quarter of cardiovascular deaths and 18% of hospital readmissions.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in Australia, claiming above 40,000 lives or 26% of all deaths in 2018, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It cost the country's health system A$10.4 billion ($7.7 billion) in 2015-2016, which could potentially rise to over A$22 billion by 2033.

The Baker Institute previously stated in its report that only half of the patients who have suffered from a heart event receive a referral to cardiac rehabilitation. It also found that about 1.2 million Australians living with cardiovascular conditions are "five to seven times more likely" to suffer future heart events than those without heart disease.

ON THE RECORD

"The outcomes of these clinical trials and studies will impact the lives of more than 4.2 million people with heart or vascular disease around the country. 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," Cardihab CEO Helen Souris said.

"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," Baker Institute Director Tom Marwick also commented.

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