Cardiovascular Research

Data and Facts
Cardiovascular diseases are cause of death number one in Germany. Almost every second death in Germany (47.2 percent) in the year 2001 is attributable to a disease of the cardiovascular system. The elderly are particularly affected by circulatory diseases. In consideration of the increasing life expectancy and the growing number of chronic heart diseases, a further increase in the incidence of these diseases is expected. Disorders of the cardiovascular system manifest themselves already in younger years (at ages below 50). The risk factors include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, obesity, smoking, diabetes and arteriosclerosis. The treatment of cardiovascular diseases produces high costs: The share of cardiovascular medications amounts to about one quarter of all medications issued by the statutory health funds. Added to this are the costs of rehabilitation for heart attack and stroke patients who require additional care after leaving the hospital as well as clinical interventions. Cardiovascular diseases are being researched at almost all institutes of higher learning in Germany. Because these diseases have many forms, various expert institutions are involved in these research projects. Even outside of universities, groups are actively studying these diseases, such as at the Max Delbrück Centre in Berlin and the Max Planck Institutes in Bad Nauheim.

National Genome Research Network (NGFN)
Diagnosis and therapy of cardiovascular diseases have been significantly improved by past research. However, a cure is still rarely possible. Experts expect major advances in the future from the new molecular and cellular biology methods. With the establishment of the National Genome Research Network (NGFN), the BMBF laid the groundwork for this in March 2001. Also in the second funding phase of the NGFN (2004-2007), cardiovascular diseases are the focus of one of the nine disease-oriented genome networks. The research areas of hypertension, cardiomyopathies, myocardial infarction, heart failure, athero-sclerosis, diabetes and haemostasis are adressed at eleven locations in germany, with a total funding of 10,5 million EURO. Through it's research, the genome network aims at providing the basis for development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic methodes.


Network spokesperson:
Prof. Dr. med. Hugo A. Katus
Ruprecht Karls University in Heidelberg
University Clinic of Heidelberg, Dept. of Internal Medicine III
Bergheimerstr. 58
69115 Heidelberg
Tel.: 0 62 21 / 56 8670
Fax: 0 62 21 / 56 5516

Competence Networks in Medicine
In order to provide optimal medical care to the population, it is essential that researchers, clinic workers, practicing doctors, rehab clinics, self-help groups and health funds work and communicate together. The best research groups throughout the country should also join together so that new methods can be developed more quickly and benefit the patients sooner. Against the backdrop of higher disease rates, the BMBF has funded three medical competence networks for cardiovascular diseases since 2003. These networks are funded over a period of 5 years with 12.5 million EURO each. The nationally active networks are involved with the disease forms of atrial fibrillation, cardiac insufficiency and inborn heart defects.

Atrial Fibrillation Competence Network
Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. med. Günter Breithardt
Network central office: Central office at the University Clinic of Münster
Domagkstr. 11 
48149 Münster
Tel.: 02 51 / 83-453 40
Fax: 02 51 / 83-453 43

Heart failure Competence Network
Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. med. Rainer Dietz
Network central office: Augustenburger Platz 1
13353 Berlin
Tel.: 0 30 / 450 576 812
Fax: 0 30 / 450 576 962
E-mail :

Congenital heart defects Competence Network
Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. med. Peter E. Lange
Network central office: Augustenburger Platz 1
13353 Berlin
Tel.: 0 30 / 450 576 772
Fax: 0 30 / 450 576 972

Additional information available at



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