This year, we are excited to announce Professor John Beltrame is the recipient of our inaugural Basil Hetzel Translational Grant. With his team, Prof Beltrame will pioneer the causes and treatment of patients living with chest pain following an ‘unexplained heart attack’.

A heart attack occurs when there are cholesterol blockages within the coronary arteries, but they can be treated with the correct medication. However, around ten percent of patients when having an x-ray of the heart (coronary angiogram) reveal no significant cholesterol blockages in the coronary arteries.

Unfortunately, there is no explanation for why these patients experience a heart attack and most importantly, there are no appropriate treatment methods.

Prof Beltrame was very concerned these patients with ‘unexplained heart attacks’ were being overlooked by clinicians so he invented the term MINOCA (Myocardial Infarction with Non-Obstructive Coronary Arteries) as a new diagnosis.

This emphasised the importance of finding the underlying issue of these types of heart attacks and Prof Beltrame now has the opportunity to study MINOCA and hopefully find the right treatment methods for patients.

“This study supported by The Hospital Research Foundation’s Translational Grant will be a world-first in examining the role of the microscopic blood vessels in these unexplained heart attacks,” Prof Beltrame said.

Prof Beltrame with his colleague Dr Tavella.
Prof Beltrame with his colleague Dr Tavella.

“Furthermore, this study is the first to scientifically evaluate if two standard heart attack treatments alleviates the recurrent chest pain experienced by patients with MINOCA. With an estimated 6,000 patients affected by MINOCA each year, the results of this study will have an important impact in their care.”

Prof Beltrame along with his research team including Associate Professor Chris Zeitz who is an interventional cardiologist are helping to understand the challenges in managing patients with MINOCA.

A/Prof Zeitz will lead the microscopic blood vessels studies and the internationally-acclaimed Coronary Angiogram Database of South Australia (CADOSA) will play a key role in the data collection for this study. This part will be coordinates by Dr Rosanna Tavella and Dr Sivabaskari (Tharshy) Pasupathy, based at The Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI).

“We will be collaborating internationally with leading researchers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom. These investigators will not only participate in the treatment study but also in a larger study investigating if these medications prevent future major complications in patients suffering MINOCA,” Prof Beltrame said.

This research has the ability to change the lives of so many people around the world suffering from MINOCA with no specific treatments that have proven to be effective. You can feel so proud knowing you’ve enabled this world first research and we look forward to keeping you informed on Prof Beltrame’s progress and introducing you to the patients participating in this world-first trial.


Please click here to read about current research on heart disease.

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