Belinda Di Bartolo – Predicting the risk of a Heart Attack 


In Australia one person suffers a Heart Attack every 10 mins. It’s the biggest cause of premature cardiovascular death and a major driver in disability of those that survive. The biggest contributor to heart disease is atherosclerosis. This disease starts with cholesterol build up in the blood vessels and is maintained by inflammation. Over time – a patient’s genetic background, presence of obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol contributes to the disease’s progression and in some cases to a heart attack or stroke.  

Dr Belinda Di Bartolo has been awarded a Heart Research Australia grant to research the two different risk factors in atherosclerosis – calcification and inflammation. Dr Di Bartolo is an early career researcher with a BMedSci (Hons) from the University of Sydney and has a PhD in Lipoprotein Biology. She has had 36 research articles published, with over 1500 citations and has won numerous awards. 

She is looking to understand how the calcium gets into the blood vessel, how it affects the blood vessel and why, when combined with inflammation, is it so damaging. 

By using advancements in new technology, she’s looking at the structure of atherosclerotic plaque within the blood vessel, to identify the precise cell profile of the patient. She will then correlate this with what she can measure in the patient’s blood – effectively taking a ‘snapshot’ of what is happening in patients with heart disease. She will then be able to use this information to predict their risk of having a heart attack and to tailor personalised treatment strategies – so that someday we can reduce number of Heart Attacks happening in Australia and world-wide. 


To read more about the research Heart Research Australia is funding click here.




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