News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


NZ heart research could have global impact

NZ heart research could have global impact

A new nationwide research project will investigate whether giving oxygen to heart attack patients is actually helping.

The results could affect the way oxygen therapy is administered both here and internationally.

To mark World Heart Day, the Heart Foundation has today announced $1.7 million in new funding for research and cardiology training.

Auckland cardiologist Professor Ralph Stewart and his research team have received a $150,000 grant for a three-year study into the use of oxygen therapy for treating heart attacks.

He says a heart attack is caused by the sudden blockage of an artery carrying blood to the heart, resulting in a lack of oxygen needed for the heart muscle to stay alive.

“As such, oxygen has for many years been routinely given to patients who have a heart attack – although its benefits have recently been questioned.

“Some small studies suggest it may be harmful by actually decreasing blood flow. Currently we do not know whether oxygen is beneficial, harmful or has no effect.”

Because oxygen is a standard form of treatment internationally, the team’s research could have a wide impact, says Professor Stewart.

“This is important knowledge which is relevant to treatment guidelines in all countries.”

His research team of cardiologists, emergency medicine specialists and ambulance services will carry out a large randomised clinical trial in hospitals throughout the country.

The study will include patients who present with a heart attack to ambulance services and emergency departments.

“We will assess two different common strategies for giving oxygen – one to all heart attack patients and the other only if blood oxygen is reduced – and this will allow us to determine whether one is preferred,” says Professor Stewart.

The team will look at whether the number of people who die within 30 days of treatment differs between the two types of oxygen therapy.

Professor Stewart – who currently works at Auckland City Hospital, Green Lane Cardiovascular Research Unit and Auckland Heart Group – estimates about 13,000 patients are admitted to New Zealand hospitals with a heart attack each year.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Gerry Devlin says heart disease is still the number-one killer in New Zealand and many of the deaths are premature and preventable.

“That's why research remains so important. Projects like Professor Stewart’s are vital because they help us improve the standard of cardiac treatment in New Zealand, and help save lives.”

Devlin says Professor Stewart’s project is exciting because it involves not only cardiologists and physicians around the country, but also our first responder ambulance service.

“I have no doubt it will also be instrumental in informing not only national but also international guidelines on how we use oxygen in patients with heart attacks.”

The Heart Foundation is New Zealand’s leading independent funder of heart research, and has invested more than $55 million into research and cardiology training since 1970.

Its 2015 funding round includes seven project grants, 10 Fellowships, seven small project grants and five travel grants. They span a range of clinical, biomedical and public health topics.

Today’s funding announcement brings the charity’s total funding in 2015 to $2.6 million.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland