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 important 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). Each year, there are more than 6 million of new CVD cases and over 1.8 million CVD-related deaths in the EU. All these costs the EU economy over EUR 210 billion a year (see the European Heart Network statistics).
Research on different aspects of CVD has been funded since the beginning of the European Commission's Framework Programmes (FPs) for research, technological development and innovation. These transnational funding programmes have focused on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of CVD. Currently, CVD research is included in the European Commission's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Societal Challenge (SC) 1 'Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing'.
The objective of the EU-funded research on CVD is to:
- provide evidence-based solutions for clinical challenges and develop preventive approaches,
- address common risk factors and identify vulnerable populations,
- improve diagnosis, early detection and stratified therapies,
- provide proof-of-concept for the establishment of integrated care approaches.
During the first four years of the Horizon 2020, over EUR 458 million funding have been devoted to 295 research projects on CVD. Out of this portfolio, 42 collaborative research projects with the total EU contribution of over EUR 237 million were funded under the SC1 'Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing’.