Creating a culture of excellence in cardio assessment
Young researchers are gaining top-level training and exposure to the latest in image-based heart monitoring, assessment and disease diagnosis, thanks to an EU-funded collaboration between industry, clinics and researchers that could lead to better outcomes for cardiovascular patients.
© 7activestudio, #131697754, 2019. source: stock.adobe.com
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are responsible for some 37 % of all deaths in the EU and 26 % of productivity losses, and they cost the economy up to EUR 210 billion annually, according to the latest European Heart Network figures.
Although CVD diagnostics and therapies have drastically improved outcomes, better tools providing more integrated assessment of cardiac function in clinical practice are sorely lacking. The EU-funded CARDIOFUNXION project was created to fill this gap.
It combines advances in digitally enhanced or image-based CVD assessment tools with model-based physiological knowledge and clinical guidelines. It provides a platform for industrial-clinical-academic collaboration that will lead to more efficient tools for interpreting how well a patient’s heart is functioning.
The project, supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme, is working on integrating higher education, clinical users and technology providers into a culture of excellence and opportunity. This means more training and exchanges for early-stage researchers involved in imaging techniques for assessing cardiovascular disorders much earlier. Earlier diagnosis means earlier treatment and improved outcomes.
From strength to strength
To date, several winter and summer schools have been organised covering topics directly aligned with the training network’s main themes: cardiovascular physiopathology, cardiac image processing, ultrasound-based quantification, cardiovascular modelling and ‘virtual physiological human’ investigations.
Several peer-reviewed publications have come out of these activities; one looked at innovations in mesh-less electromechanical heart modelling, which could eliminate the need for manual editing and pre-processing.
Participating researchers have also developed a new statistical framework for integrating longitudinal data, which improves disease screening. Several have worked on methods to integrate 2D and 3D echocardiographs, making it easier to monitor and diagnose CVD, as well as other advances.
Together, the partners involved in the project cover the spectrum of relevant multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral expertise. ‘The early-stage researchers thus benefit from a holistic view of the topic and gain first-hand experience in academic, industrial and clinical research and development,’ notes the team.