Hazelwood Health Study staff Karen Kilpatrick and Liz Dewar help Sale participant Bill Redmond during the cardiovascular assessment.

Heart and blood vessel assessments of adults who lived in Sale during the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire are underway.

The Hazelwood Health Study has selected about 1000 of the 4100 Morwell and Sale residents who completed the previous Adult Survey, to participate in the free, specialised cardiovascular health assessments.

Invites have been mailed out to selected Sale residents with testing beginning on Thursday.

The aim is to find out whether exposure to mine fire smoke has affected the heart and blood vessels of adults living in Morwell compared to adults living in Sale.

HHS cardiovascular spokesman Dr Dion Stub said Sale was chosen as a comparison community because it was only minimally exposed to the smoke but was comparable to Morwell in size, rural location, and population characteristics.

“The participants in Sale are very important. Not only does their participation help the researchers measure the impact of the mine fire smoke, it also provides vital information about the cardiovascular health profile in Sale itself. This helps to guide long-term health service needs specific to the Sale area,” Dr Stub said.

Dr Stub said “to ensure the study gets accurate results as many of the selected Sale residents as possible must participate; whether they are well or unwell.

Participation involves attending the Hazelwood Health Study Clinic at Central Gippsland Health Service in Sale for two hours. The appointment will include completing questionnaires, measurements and tests administered by trained researchers in private rooms. Blood pressure, electrical activity of the heart measured by ECG and blood cholesterol are examples of the tests included.

The selected residents who agree to take part in the testing will receive a $50 gift card for their time and inconvenience. Information on how to participate will be included in the mailed invitations.

The study will then invite participants to repeat the same assessments on two further occasions; once in three years and again in six years from now.

Residents who receive the invitation packs should phone the study on 1800 985 899 to book an appointment. Residents who completed the previous Adult Survey but have since changed address, can phone the recruitment team to find out if they were randomly chosen to participate and also update their address.

This research is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. For more information about the Monash University-led Hazelwood Health Study, visit www.hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au

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