Saturday, 13 June 2009
Western Australian heart disease patients are being urged to tell their stories as part of a research project designed to link people who have or have recovered from heart disease.
Heartnet, an website designed by Edith Cowan University (ECU), funded by the Australian Research Council and supported by the Heart Foundation in WA, has spent four years connecting heart patients, their carers, friends and family online in a unique forum that encourages people to share experiences, discuss health issues and support each other.
But ECU researchers say they want more people to visit the site to tell their stories of heart disease - as well as stroke and blood vessel disease - to help them develop a profile of people with the conditions and improve the site's ability to help.
Anyone over 18 years, and who has been affected by heart disease, can join the site to chat, discuss or share their experiences at Heartnet.
According to ECU Heartnet researcher Dr Trevor Cullen, heart disease patients need support to recover, and Heartnet enables them to find that support in the comfort of their own home.
"They have incredible strength and the website allows them to share that strength and their experiences with others," he said.
Christine Pentland, a Heartnet member since November 2007, said the website had helped to give her a focus.
"It's given me a place to come and be connected with people, experiencing similar things, finding understanding and often a place where meaningful and non-judgemental advice and knowledge has been gained by me," she said.
Faye Anderson, another regular visitor to the site since 2008, said she accesses the site every day, to offer encouragement and support.
"I would encourage others to use this site as it has heaps of useful information and for those who have been diagnosed with a heart condition," she said.
Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in Australia, with 46,000 Australians losing their lives to it in 2006.
For more details about the website and to participate in the research project on heart disease, please contact Dr Trevor Cullen on 9370 6354 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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