Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease, including both heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. This is not just a problem for the richest countries: it is now also a major issue in low- and middle-income nations. In the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, we study a range of strategies to improve diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Some examples are highlighted below, and you can explore in more detail on our Research pages.

Diagnosing Heart Attacks:

When a patient comes to the Emergency Department with chest pain, doctors use a blood test to determine if they are having a heart attack. This test measures a heart protein called troponin: high levels of troponin show that the heart muscle has been damaged. A new more sensitive test has recently been developed, and our researchers (led by Professor Nick Mills) are studying how best to use it in practice. With support from the British Heart Foundation, we are investigating whether this more sensitive test can help us to identify patients with heart attacks earlier and more easily, so that patients can get the best treatment faster.

Ways that our research has already shown useful and important results:

  • We have shown that using the more sensitive troponin test can help us to better identify women who are having a heart attack, who would previously have been missed. 
  • We have also shown how we can safely use the test to ‘rule-out’ heart attack in a significant portion of patients, saving hours of worry for those patients, and much-needed money for the NHS. 
  • The more sensitive test can also reveal people with slightly higher-than-normal levels of troponin who aren’t actively having a heart attack but are at risk of having one in the future: with help, however, they can change their lifestyle to reduce this risk.
  • Another important aspect of our research is talking to patients to find out how they feel about this new approach, and to identify ways we could improve the often-frightening experience of coming to hospital with chest pain. 

We are now conducting a series of large clinical trials across Scotland to study how much benefit we could potentially achieve from rolling out our approaches nationally and internationally.

To find out more, follow the links above to read related news articles, watch the video below, or go to our research project page for more detail and links to our scientific papers.