and heart disease are two of the world's most common chronic diseases.
More than 10 million people in Europe have diabetes. Many sufferers
who develop the disease in middle age can control their symptoms by
watching what they eat. The diabetes that strikes young people is often
more severe, and can be fatal without regular insulin injections. Even
with good treatment, diabetics of all types are prone to distressing
long term health problems.
Cardiovascular diseases cause 12 million deaths per year world-wide
and account for more than half of all deaths in Europe of people over
65. The wide variation in the incidence of heart disease between European
countries is causing great concern; in France, four people in every
10 000 die prematurely from heart disease but in Latvia the death rate
for people under 65 is more than six times higher.
diabetes and heart disease occur in various forms and are caused by
a mixture of factors, some genetic, some environmental. Unravelling
exactly what causes particular types of these common diseases requires
the skills of scientists from many different areas. Europe is funding
large projects to bring scientists with the right backgrounds together
and also make use of the huge natural resource offered by a total population
of 370 million people. European researchers have also set up international
projects that are receiving world recognition for their efforts.
International Stroke Trial - Aspirin against heart attack
Several European research projects have identified simple treatments
that can be taken by people at risk from cardiovascular disease. Two
multinational studies have found that people who have recently suffered
a heart attack or a stroke benefit from taking regular small doses
of aspirin to prevent further blood clots. The International Stroke
Trial, the world's largest ever trial of this type, involved 20000
patients from 600 hospitals in 43 countries.
EURODIAB - Understanding the causes of childhood diabetes
The number of young people in Europe who develop childhood diabetes
is still rising. Currently, central and eastern European countries are
seeing the greatest increase in cases. Children who develop diabetes
can be treated with insulin but they must learn to cope with daily injections
and often suffer ill health later in life. EURODIAB TIGER and its predecessor
EURODIAB ACE are making use of a large registration network developed
during the last 15 years to look for the causes of the disease. This
is a crucial step towards being able to prevent childhood diabetes in
U-CARE - Preventing atypical cardiac arrests
Even young people in good health can be the victims of cardiac arrest.
U-CARE (Unexplained Cardiac Arrest Registry of Europe) project studied
people who recovered after emergency treatment for cardiac arrest. Patients
from five different countries were checked yearly for ten years. One
of the aims of U-CARE was to find out which drugs and treatments given
after the heart attack were the most useful.