A SOUTH Australian researcher is at the forefront of a pioneering trial to simultaneously screen for heart disease and breast cancer.
Alarmed by the rising number of women suffering from heart disease – it now kills three times as many Australian women as breast cancer – SAHMRI Heart Health project manager, Peta King said more education and research is desperately needed.
Ms King said the issue is particularly acute in the country – women living in remote areas are 20 per cent more likely to die from heart disease than those in major cities.
She wants to combine screening for breast cancer with a heart health screening, with recruitment for trials set to start in March.
Recent studies have shown that calcification in the arteries of the breast that show up on a mammogram can be an indication of similar problems in the heart. By teaming this knowledge with blood pressure and cholesterol checks at the same appointment, it’s hoped more women will be able to take heart healthy steps before suffering a heart attack and be able to prioritise dual health concerns.
“The idea that women could receive screening for not one but two major health concerns at one time is very attractive to busy women,” Ms King said.
But as it’s a local study, that will only include South Australian women, Ms King said it is unlikely to be funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
This leaves it dependent on the generosity of smaller philanthropic groups.
“Research like this needs more donors to help support it, especially if we wish the research and outcomes to have a much larger impact,’’ Ms King said.
“This is a program we would love to see rolled out to rural and regional health centres, however, currently funding for this research is limited. The more funding we receive the wider we can cast our nets to include our country women.”
The call comes as News Corp SA advocates for real change for women in our state through the #Engage4ChangeSA campaign.
Ms King said the idea that men suffer more heart disease than women is not correct, rather that women tend to present with problems 10 years later. “Men have a higher prevalence of heart disease between the ages of 45 to 65, however, once women enter post-menopause the rates of heart disease between gender disappear,’’ she said.
To help fund the combined mammogram and heart health study visit www.sahmri.org/donate and type in ‘women and cardiovascular disease’ as the cause you would like to support with your donation.
This story was reproduced with permission from The Advertiser.