Cardiovascular diseases refer to the class of diseases that may affect the heart, the blood vessels and the circulation system. While the term technically denotes any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, it is usually used for those related to arterial disease.
These conditions have similar causes, mechanisms, and treatments and are the subject of many research and development projects.
Cardiovascular medicine has several fields of application:
Diagnostic and imaging - medical and technological equipments enable the diagnosis of the disease, monitoring and analysis of the cardiac rhythm, as well as non-invasive and invasive visualisation of the blood flow in the cardiac cavities and blood vessels.
Drugs allow patients to be treated for arterial hypertension, coronary and peripheral artery disease, valvular diseases and heart failure of diverse origins.Interventional therapies allow patients to be treated with catheter technologies, in ambulatory care settings e.g. coronary and peripheral artery stenting.Surgery allows patients with end-stage coronary artery disease, damaged cardiac valves, dilatation or rupture of the aorta or disturbances of the cardiac rhythm to be treated surgically, for example with coronary artery bypass grafting, heart valve repair or replacement, replacement of the aorta with prosthetic grafts or catheter-based endovascular grafts as well as the implantation of a pacemaker.Cell and Tissue Engineering: myocardial and valvular tissue regeneration.
Cardiovascular science is mainly taught in the Faculties of medicine at the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg and Bern. Lausanne University has a specific programme dedicated to cardiovascular disease and metabolism, the Pole Cardio-Vasculaire et Métabolique. This programme has close links with Geneva and Fribourg Universities. The EPFL, with its chair of Modelling and Scientific Computing, is leading a European project called HaeModel, which aims to carry out the mathematical modeling of the cardiovascular system and works in close collaboration with several other leading European institutions.
The BeFri network offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in biomedical sciences, with a special focus on cardiology, metabolism and neurosciences. The University of Fribourg focuses on the undergraduate degree and the University of Bern on the Master degree, although the network uses the competencies of both. Different scientific teams are carrying out basic and applied research. The Swiss Cardiology Foundation has invested 30 million Swiss francs to support about 400 research projects over the past few years, working with leading private and public hospitals in Switzerland.
The CSEM is involved in cardiovascular research with the European HeartCycle project. With an industrial partner, CSEM plans to develop a telemonitoring system to improve quality of life and treatment of patients suffering from coronary diseases and cardiac insufficiency. The Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) has build up a centre of excellence in the cardiovascular and transplantation fields: its CardioMet centre’s mission is to create a centre of excellence in care, research and training in the cardiovascular and metabolism areas.
The hypertension consultation has been certified a Centre of Excellence by the European Society of Hypertension. In 2002, a partnership was signed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to organize a large clinical study to identify genes responsible for cardiovascular diseases in the Lausanne population, CoLaus I, including 6700 people, the largest cohort in Switzerland. In 2009, the Swiss National Fund for Cardiovascular Research funded a three-year research programme to study the heart and brain of people in Lausanne, CoLaus II.
The Geneva University Hospital (HUG) has developed a humanitarian programme in pediatric cardiac surgery, operating on children with cardiac malformations. Bern University Hospital (Insel), covers all aspects of cardiovascular medicine and surgery, and is the leading heart transplant centre in Switzerland. It also has an active programme for the implantation of artificial hearts. Bern University Hospital has the largest recruitment of cardiovascular patients in the country and also participates in clinical trials and research.
Major multinational companies active in the cardiology field, such as Medtronic and Edwards Lifesciences, have based their European headquarters within the BioAlps cluster. The presence of these highly successful and professional companies has encouraged the creation of several start-ups in the cardiology field.
Leman Cardiovascular is developing the next generation of heart valves, while Endosense has developed the first force-sensing ablation catheter to provide a real-time, objective measure of contact force between the catheter and the beating heart wall. Smartcanula LLC is a manufacturer for advanced interfaces between the circulatory system and cardio-pulmonary bypass, an important technology for open heart surgery. A spin-off of the University Hospital of Bern, called Swiss Cardio Technologies, aims to develop and promote the newest technologies in the field of cardiovascular surgery.
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