Diseases of the heart and circulatory system (cardiovascular diseases) encompass a number of specific illnesses such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, arterial and pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, valvular heart disease, etc. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are one of Europe's largest health problems. Despite dramatic medical advances over the last few decades, CVD remain a leading cause of death globally and the number one cause of death in the European Union (EU). They account for 30 % of deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation and 42 % in the EU (see British Heart Foundation statistics). Fortunately, research focusing on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of CVD is moving ahead rapidly.
The objective of the EU-funded research on CVD is to advance the knowledge that will lead to an improvement in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and monitoring of cardiovascular disease. An emphasis is placed on translational CVD research, promoting the translation of basic research discoveries into clinical applications, using broad multidisciplinary approaches.
Research on different aspects of CVD has been funded since the beginning of the European Commission's framework programmes (FPs) for research and technological development. These are funding programmes at a transnational level. Currently CVD research is included in the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7; 2007-2013) as one of five areas of 'Translational research in other major diseases'.
During the first five years of FP7, 25 collaborative cardiovascular disease research projects were funded under this part of the HEALTH programme. The total EU contribution is estimated to be over € 163 million.