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Personalised healthcare

Tuesday 6 October 2020 12:48pm

Dr Sarah Appleby has been awarded a Canterbury Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) grant ($109,719) and a Heart Foundation project grant ($150,000), for her work that will explore novel biological markers for the detection and follow up of heart failure in patients that also have conditions such as obesity, diabetes and atrial fibrillation.

Dr Sarah Appleby image 2017Dr Sarah Appleby

Her work will address the ‘one size fits all’ testing for heart failure, which currently disadvantages patients with additional health problems. “We hope to improve the accuracy of heart failure diagnosis and determine risk when the clinical picture is complicated by additional health problems such as obesity, diabetes and atrial fibrillation. This will also address health inequalities by promoting more personalised healthcare, resulting in increased quality of life and a reduction in deaths from heart failure in these patient groups,” Dr Appleby said.

When the heart is under increased stress, it releases more of the heart protein B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) into the blood. “BNP is produced from a parent protein called proBNP, which is then ‘chopped’ into two main products, BNP and NT-proBNP, with the latter generally being an excellent marker for the detection and follow-up of heart failure. However, in patients who are obese, have irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation), are diabetic, very old or have reduced kidney function, the test is less accurate. Therefore, we aim to investigate novel biomarkers in obese and/or diabetic people and those with atrial fibrillation who have acute or chronic heart failure.”

The research will determine whether these markers can complement or replace NT-proBNP for detecting heart failure or forecasting outcomes in these important heart failure subgroups, facilitating more personalised care.