NSW govt to tackle heart disease in budget

Dominica Sanda
The NSW government will spend $150 million over the next 10 years tackling cardiovascular disease

If it wasn't for research into cardiovascular disease, John Bickerstaff believes he'd be living a muted life - one that definitely doesn't involve playing drums in a band.

Mr Bickerstaff was born with a congenital heart defect and had surgery in his 20s which saw him treated like he was "wrapped in cotton wool".

But, he says, research later conducted at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital "shook the world up".

It found if people with similar conditions are exposed to stress and completed weight training, it could allow them to live a normal life.

"It's pretty transformative, it's made a massive difference," Mr Bickerstaff told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

"These are the kind of things that research can just make a huge impact on people's lives ... rather than living a fairly constrained life, you get out and live life normally."

For Mr Bickerstaff, this includes playing drums in a band and other "cool things" he wasn't able to do before.

He said the NSW government's announcement on Sunday that it will spend $150 million over the next 10 years tackling cardiovascular disease was "incredibly exciting".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the record amount will start with a $60 million rollout to researchers in the upcoming state budget.

"Heart disease remains Australia's number one killer but with greater investment, researchers can predict, prevent and treat it more accurately," she said on Sunday.

Cardiovascular disease affects one in six Australians, and kills one person every 12 minutes.

The funding will help support researchers to "crack codes" when it comes to the congenital, genetic and lifestyle conditions that are behind the disease, Ms Berejiklian added.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the money would ensure the "brightest and best researchers" come and stay in Australia to help beat the disease.

He said people were alive today because of the research conducted in the past.

"But, there are still far too many people passing away from cardiovascular disease," Mr Hazzard said alongside Ms Berejiklian in Sydney.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding was the largest investment ever made in NSW to fight heart disease,.