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Celebrating World Heart Day 2020
Today is World Heart Day – a global event to raise awareness and educate people about cardiovascular disease and ways to keep our hearts healthy.
It is estimated that more than 300,000 adult Victorians are living with heart disease. And as Victoria’s population grows and ages, this number will increase.
We’re working with Monash Health and Monash University to deliver Australia’s first, state-of-the art, specialist heart hospital. The Victorian Heart Hospital will provide innovative, holistic and patient-centred care, as well as world-leading research and education.
Melissa Harvey is a Cardiac Rhythm Management clinical nurse consultant at MonashHeart, the cross-site cardiology service of Monash Health. We spoke about her role, innovations in cardiac care and what the new Victorian Heart Hospital will mean for patients with heart disease.
What is your role at MonashHeart?
My role is to manage our heart rhythm clinics. I do a lot of triaging and coordination, and also see patients for education, advice and support.
We deal with all cardiac rhythm problems, but our biggest is atrial fibrillation, so we have a clinic specifically for that. Atrial fibrillation is a major cause of stroke, so it’s where I direct most of my time and focus.
I love working with atrial fibrillation patients – when we can prevent a stroke it has a huge impact on a patient’s life.
Why did you specialise in cardiac care?
I first started working in the cardiac team at MonashHeart as a student in 2007, after retiring as a tennis player. I really loved the work and the team of nurses were so inspiring. They provided such high-quality care to their patients.
As a nurse you want to make a difference, and I felt this was an area where I could do that. Heart disease is our biggest health problem, so there is so much scope to help patients and improve their care.
What’s been your highlight working at MonashHeart?
I helped establish the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic within MonashHeart, where patients receive a combination of medical therapy, education and ongoing support. When we first started, our clinic had a long waiting list – and you don’t want people with heart issues waiting for treatment.
We were able to get the clinic running the way we wanted and get the waiting list down – which felt like such an achievement. We ended up winning an international Atrial Fibrillation Association award for our work, by providing multidisciplinary care through the clinic and preventing people from having strokes.
However, the best part of my job is when patients tell me that I’ve helped them. Even though I’ve cared for thousands of patients, I always make sure I treat them as an individual and give them the best possible care.
Why are you excited about the new Victorian Heart Hospital?
Having patient care, education and research all under one roof will be incredible. The healthcare system can be difficult to navigate for patients – but having everything in one place will really streamline their experience and ensure they receive world-class care.
I think the strong research and education focus will also create a positive learning culture. Patients will have more opportunities to participate in studies and staff will have the chance to pursue their own research. I’m currently doing my own research pilot and I think every person in healthcare should be involved in research at some point. Research is vital in guiding our practice and ensuring we can provide our patients with evidence-based care.
How can we all look after our heart health?
Working in the heart rhythm clinic, I always tell patients to learn how to take their pulse. If you know what your pulse normally feels like, and you detect anything irregular, you can visit your GP.
For overall heart health, the most important thing is living a healthy lifestyle. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol – those sorts of things.
Over the past six months, people have also been visiting the GP less often, due to COVID-19. It’s so important to see your GP regularly, because they can pick up a lot of heart rhythm issues or other symptoms of cardiovascular disease. GPs are also a great support with changing and maintaining healthy lifestyle changes.
About the new Victorian Heart Hospital
Located on the Monash University Clayton campus, the new Victorian Heart Hospital will integrate clinical cardiology services, research and education to create a centre of excellence, raising the profile of cardiovascular research, treatment and training. Patients with heart disease will be able to access world-class cardiac care and ground-breaking research, all under one roof.
Due to be completed in late 2022, the Victorian Heart Hospital will have the capacity to provide up to 2,150 cardiac surgeries per year and manage up to 28,300 cardiac emergencies. The project is being delivered in partnership with Monash Health and Monash University.
Find out more about the Victorian Heart Hospital via our dedicated project page.
Last updated: 29 September 2020
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