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Enlargement, 3 years after

European Commission - Enlargement - Enlargement, 3 years after - Europe at heart

Europe at heart: Lithuania and the EU offer better chances for people with cardiovascular disease.

The term "cardiovascular disease" (CVD, also commonly referred to as "heart disease") refers to a group of medical problems that affect the heart and surrounding blood vessels. It can take many forms, such as high blood pressure or stroke.

Diseases of the heart and circulatory system account for 1.9 million deaths in the European Union, or about half of all deaths in European countries. Within this group, coronary (or ischemic) heart disease is a major cause of death. CHD results in many premature deaths and since clinical care in cardio-vascular diseases is costly and prolonged, it is also a major economic burden in Europe.

A scientist at work

With the help of the EU's Structural Funds, scientists in Lithuania are now better able to bring their know-how and expertise to EU-wide efforts to offer heart patients new hope. The Institute of Cardiology of the Kaunas Medical University (KMU) in Lithuania, -- the most important institute of its kind in the country, including 9 laboratories, 5 research groups and employing a staff of 201 --, recently opened new molecular pathology and cell-culture labs, specializing in advanced genetic research aimed at finding new treatment methods for cardiovascular diseases

“Although cardiovascular diseases are one of the most frequent causes of death or disability both in Lithuania and in the world, no studies of such type were conducted in our country up until now", explains Vaiva Lesauskaite, Deputy Director of Research at the KMU Institute. "We hope to fill this gap."

The main focus of research at the new laboratories will be on heart attack and ischemic heart disease. “New treatment methods could help replace cells damaged by myocardial infarction with new ones. Our laboratory specialists are studying this area as an alternative to heart transplants. However, more detailed research is required and EU assistance will enable us to advance this work in the future,” says Prof. Lesauskaite.

With the EU's support, now scientists in more countries can join forces to find better, more effective treatments for people with cardiovascular diseases. What better way to put Europe in people's hearts?

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Last update: 27/10/2011