New TREATment for heart attack patients in regional Australia

06 Aug 2016
New TREATment for heart attack patients in regional Australia

SAHMRI researchers have launched the Australian arm of a clinical trial, TREAT, aimed at improving outcomes for heart attack patients in regional and remote areas. Part of a global effort, SAHMRI’s Heart Health Theme leader and Deputy Director and Professor of Cardiology at the University of Adelaide, Stephen Nicholls, is leading the Australian charge in an effort to assess if current guidelines for treatment of remotely-located heart attack patients should be changed. 

Professor Nicholls said that this trial is the largest global study ever performed involving regionally-located heart attack patients. 

“We are very excited to be involved in TREAT, particularly as it has the potential to improve treatments for the 15,000 patients who suffer a heart attack in remote or regional areas each year,” he said. 

“Trials like this show our commitment to doing medical research that has a real impact on the broader community. Patients who don’t live in metropolitan areas are entitled to the best care we can offer them and clinical trials provide that opportunity. Patients outside of metropolitan areas should not miss out, and that’s why clinical studies like TREAT are so important.” 

A rare opportunity for regional patients 

Clinical trials are usually based in city centres, which means patients located further afield often can’t participate. This trial represents a truly unique opportunity for regionally-located patients to participate in clinical research that could change the treatment guidelines for heart attack patients in the future. 

Current treatment options for heart attack patients include clot-busting medication or angioplasty, in combination with antiplatelet drugs and aspirin. Antiplatelet drugs, like the one being examined in the TREAT study, can reduce the risk of future complications that often follow heart attacks. TREAT aims to establish if a new antiplatelet drug can result in better outcomes for heart attack patients than the current standard treatment protocol. 

Global collaboration with local impact 

Coordinated by the Research Institute of HCor in Sao Paulo Brazil, this trial will involve 209 sites in 11 countries, including Australia and New Zealand. SAHMRI researchers are working with 20 regional, remote and city-based hospitals across Australia to recruit 200 patients into the trial. 

Anatomy of the new TREATment 

TREAT (Administration of TicagRElor in pAtients with ST elevation myocardial infarction treated with pharmacological?Thrombolysis) will be trialing the use of the drug Ticagrelor, a new-generation drug approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for use after the first 24 hours of a heart attack. This study will assess safety and efficacy for patients with myocardial infarction treated with thrombolytic therapy in the first 24 hours of a heart attack. 

The treatment process for TREAT involves taking the study medication daily for 12 months following the heart attack, and then follow up consultations at 30 days, six months and 12 months post-event, often using new telemedicine technology. 

A patient’s voice 

One of the first Australian patients to be treated was Geoff Schubert from Kimba. After chest pain and an echocardiogram at Kimba Hospital showed an inferior myocardial infarction, Mr Schubert was treated with clot-busting medicine and then transferred via the Royal Flying Doctor Service to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He then went on to have a stent successfully inserted in a coronary artery. 

Mr Schubert said that he is very happy to be part of this clinical trial. “If it means that people like myself, who live in regional and remote areas will receive the best healthcare after suffering a heart attack, then I will be very pleased,” Mr Schubert said.