Almost one in two deaths in Germany is due to a disease of the cardiovascular system. Older people in particular are affected. A further increase in this figure can be expected in view of rising life expectancy rates and the growing number of people with chronic heart diseases. But cardiovascular disorders also occur in younger people (under 50 years of age). Risk factors include excess weight, smoking, high blood pressure, a high cholesterol level and diabetes.
The treatment of cardiovascular diseases is costly: The share of cardiovascular drugs alone amounts to around a quarter of overall expenditure on drugs in the statutory health insurance system. In addition to the cost of diagnostics and treatment, there is also expenditure on rehabilitation measures for heart attack or stroke patients who require further care after they are discharged from hospital.
Further information on cardiovascular research can be found here.
Research in recent years has led to considerable improvements in the diagnosis and therapy of cardiovascular diseases. Nevertheless, a complete cure is rarely possible. Experts expect considerable progress in the field of cardiovascular research as a result of new molecular and cell biology methods.
Three of the Medical Genome Research Networks (NGFN-Plus) are working with cardiovascular diseases. The networks study, among other things, the genetic mechanisms which lead to a heart attack, arterial sclerosis, and obesity. Apart from providing systematic functional analyses of the genes, the networks' research results can also provide the basis for the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Between 2008 and 2011, around 7.4 million euros of BMBF funding was made available to functional genome research dedicated to cardiovascular diseases. Following a successful interim evaluation, funding has been continued to 2013.
In three additional interdisciplinary networks (NGFN-Transfer), diagnostic processes are explored for cardiac insufficiency and chronic renal failure. For this, around 4.5 million euros were made available between 2008 and 2011.
These are supra-regional networks on pre-defined diseases linking research and patient care. In view of the high rate of disease incidence, the BMBF has been funding three Medical Competence Networks for cardiovascular diseases since 2003. These networks operate nation-wide and deal with diseases such as atrial fibrillation, heart insufficiency and congenital heart defects.
At the RTC of the University of Rostock, new methods of heart disease treatment involving adult stem cells are being researched and applied. The methods developed at the centre - through the work of partners from industry and the clinic - are to serve as a reference for the translation of scientific clinical findings into new therapies for further projects in the field of stem cell research. The RTC is thus seen as a service provider for scientists, doctors and patients. The Federal and State funded centre received 3.4 million euros in financial support from the BMBF between 2009 and 2011.
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