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CardiacRehabPlus: Innovation to improve outcomes for TIA and cardiac rehabilitation patients

Dr Frances Batchelor, Institution: National Ageing Research Institute

2018 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2019-2021


The aims of this research are to implement and evaluate an enhanced model of cardiac rehabilitation (Cardiac Rehab Plus) for people with transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke (mS).With Cardiac Rehab Plus, cardiovascular health is expected to improve which may result in reduced disability and death by preventing secondary stroke. Transient ischemic attack and minor stroke (TIA/mS) are common cerebrovascular events  affecting 10,000+ Australians. Without optimal treatment, around a third of people with TIA will have a more serious stroke. In Australia, a stroke occurs every 9 minutes yet 90% of cases are due to modifiable risk factors. TIA/mS represent a unique opportunity to intervene and limit disability and death.

To date, treatment post-hospital is usually limited to medical risk factor management (eg. controlling blood pressure) without a coordinated approach to lifestyle modification or education. People with TIA/mS have excellent neurological recovery and usually receive minimal, if any, rehabilitation. However, our team recently showed that despite the appearance of recovery, people with TIA/mS performed poorly on nearly all measures of balance and walking. Despite high risks of further stroke, and despite walking and balance problems, most people do not receive education or rehabilitation follow up after TIA/mS unlike those who have had a cardiac event.

After a cardiac event, people are offered cardiac rehabilitation which involves education on risk factors as well as a physical activity program. However, it is unclear if those who have experienced a cardiac event have balance or agility problems despite having similar vascular risk as those with TIA/mS. Where present, mild balance dysfunction has significant  impacts for individuals including falls, avoiding community access, limiting physical activity or preventing return to work. Our project will address these gaps for both people with TIA/mS and those following a cardiac event.

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