February 14, 2018  Print

Today is National Wear Red Day. Australians will wear red to honour or remember someone close to them who has been affected by heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, with more than 17 million people dying from the disease in 2015. The team at the Westmead Institute wants to change this.

Associate Professor James Chong – head of the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory and a cardiologist at Westmead Hospital – is dedicated to improving the lives of his patients.

“My research group is inspired by the patients who I treat daily,” he said.

Associate Professor Chong is investigating the use of stem cells to grow new heart muscles that could help repair damage caused by a heart attack.

Associated Professor James Chong

Dead heart muscle cannot be replaced, so a heart transplant is the only ‘cure’ available to patients with end stage heart disease. However, not all patients may be eligible for a transplant, and donor organs are in short supply. 

“Although heart transplantation is a viable option for some, there will never be enough donor organs to supply the increasing demand of our ageing nation,” Associate Professor Chong said.

With further progress, Associate Professor Chong’s research could lead to heart transplants, which require major surgery, becoming a thing of the past.

Associate Professor Chong’s research will not only benefit patients in Western Sydney, but could have an impact on the millions of people around the world affected by heart disease.

“The aim is to create effective treatments for patients with injured hearts so that much needed solutions to the growing epidemic of heart failure can save billions of dollars in health care costs and many future lives,” Associate Professor Chong said. 

Read more about Associate Professor Chong here.