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Strategies to optimise psychological health in children and adults with congenital heart disease

Associate Professor Nadine Kasparian, Institution: University of New South Wales

2016 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2017-2021


There are now more than 65,000 Australians living with congenital heart disease (CHD). Those with complex CHD are at increased risk of neurodevelopmental disability and poor mental health, yet there are very few support programs available worldwide to minimise or prevent these effects.

Associate Professor Nadine Kasparian investigates how the early life experiences of children with complex CHD can influence brain development, the body’s immune system and responses to stress.

By identifying the factors that may place children and adults at greater risk of poor outcomes, and developing evidence-based treatments, Nadine is finding new ways to intervene as early as possible, with strategies to support children and families from the time of CHD diagnosis, through treatment and ongoing cardiac care.

Nadine’s research also focuses on understanding why some adolescents and young people disengage from recommended heart health care, with potentially catastrophic health consequences. She is developing new ways of helping young people with complex CHD navigate the transition to adulthood, with the right practical and emotional support to ensure their continued cardiac care.

It is vital that the successes achieved medically for people with CHD are not undermined by a lack of adequate emotional care. The ultimate goal is to offer high quality, cost-effective programs to enhance the health and well-being of people with CHD.

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