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Cardiovascular disease in the UK

Diseases of the heart and circulatory system are the commonest cause of mortality in the UK, accounting for over one third of deaths. Over 50% of these deaths (140,000) are from coronary heart disease (CHD) and ~25% from stroke. Other causes include heart failure, cardiomyopathy and thromboembolic disorders.

Cardiovascular disease also causes substantial morbidity. An estimated 1.4 million people in the UK have angina (due to atherosclerotic narrowing of coronary arteries), while myocardial infarction (MI) affects 300,000 patients per annum. The costs to the UK economy of CHD were estimated to be >10 billion per annum in 1996. As survival after MI has improved, the prevalence of chronic heart failure has increased especially in the over 60s; 30,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Major risk factors for CHD include hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, smoking, diabetes and obesity. Hypertension affects 22% of adults while 50% are overweight, with rapidly rising obesity rates threatening to further increase cardiovascular disease. Clearly, there are good reasons for the high priority placed on cardiovascular disease within the NHS and by research-funding organisations such as the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Our research strategy

The overall research strategy of the School is driven primarily by the need to translate strong basic science into clinically relevant advances. Critical components of the strategy are high quality multi-disciplinary integrative biology, and the integration of academic and clinical activity with a strong focus on translational research. The School aims to:

  • Pursue internationally leading laboratory-to-bedside research programmes that address fundamental molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cardiovascular function.
  • Link these to translational research that improves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human cardiovascular disease.
  • Undertake high quality research training for non-clinical and clinical scientists.
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