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Evaluating and improving outcomes for people with peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

Associate Professor Sally Inglis, Institution: University of Technology Sydney

2019 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2026


This project aims to advance scientific knowledge about a life-altering cardiovascular problem, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and give patients access to specialised care and support, regardless of where they live, thus optimising their health and quality of life. PAD is caused by fatty deposits in the blood vessels in the legs, with smoking a significant cause. Prevalence increases with age – nearly one in five people over 70 are affected increasing to nearly half of those over 80 – and patients have a very high risk of heart attack and stroke. Without appropriate support and care, they face very poor prospects, including debilitating leg pain, sometimes resulting in amputation, with one limb amputated every 2 hours in Australia due to complications of PAD and coexisting diabetes.

Currently, the needs of PAD patients, particularly those living far from outpatient services, are not being adequately met. Many receive rehabilitation, or support in managing their cardiovascular disease, only after suffering a heart attack or stroke. These preventable outcomes could be averted if patients and clinicians were better connected, enabling patients to manage their condition before it is too late. This project will examine the prevalence of PAD, its risk factors and how best to manage them, and health service use by people with PAD. It will determine the availability of cardiac rehabilitation services for such patients across Australia, their access to and participation in those services, and the level of public and clinician awareness, knowledge and information regarding PAD.

A nurse-led telehealth intervention, using smartphones or tablet devices to monitor patients and help them manage their disease will be trialled. Project outcomes will be better options for care and support, tailored to patients’ needs, which will significantly improve their quality of life and reduce the likelihood of heart attack, stroke and amputation.

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