Is the answer to who develops heart disease in our genes, intestinal bacteria or lifestyle? You can read more about the Institute of Medicine’s research on cardiovascular diseases below. We conduct both clinical, epidemiological, and translational research, run the national population study SCAPIS on cardiovascular and lung research, as well as lead large-scale international collaborative projects.
Thanks to major advances in research, we have become better at preventing and treating cardiovascular disease. The risk of dying from coronary heart disease has, for example, decreased by approximately 75% since the late 1980s. Despite this, a quarter of a million people suffer from heart failure in Sweden and more and more young people fall ill.
Our research areas
Here at the Institute, we are developing knowledge of topics ranging from “broken heart syndrome” to why low educational attainment is associated with elevated heart attack and stroke risk.
We conduct both clinical patient-based studies, epidemiological research and translational studies in the following areas:
- chronic heart failure
- congenital heart defects
genetic heart muscle diseases
- heart surgery
- how sex hormones affect the risk of cardiovascular disease
- how we can improve and make risk assessment for cardiovascular diseases more individualised
- “broken heart syndrome” (Takotsubo syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy)
- acute heart failure
Research on the international front
At the Institute of Medicine, heart research on the international front line is in progress. Our researchers are leading major studies such as the Swedish Cardiopulmonary Bioimage Study (SCAPIS), in collaboration with the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation. One exciting current joint project with Chalmers University of Technology is aimed at finding out whether AI can be used to predict myocardial infarction, heart failure and sudden death. Our scientists have also helped to establish innovative study designs, including the concept of RRCT (Randomized Registry Clinical Trials) and national cluster randomized trials.
In addition, several clinical treatment studies are under way in SWEDEHEART (Swedish Web-system for Enhancement and Development of Evidence-based care in Heart disease Evaluated According to Recommended Therapies), the national quality registry platform.
Also, our researchers run TACSI, the first truly international registry-based RCT that has so far included 1,400 patients in five countries.
- BROKEN SWEDEHEART
Heart pump study in case of severe heart failure
Our researchers have a broad international contact network and are involved in several worldwide studies. For instance, we lead the Swedish part of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, which is exploring international variation in cardiovascular disease patterns by studying 200,000 people from some 20 countries.
Learn more about the PURE-study
Furthermore, we are also involved in the international collaboration HERMES which maps genetic causes of heart failure. Learn more about HERMES
Important research findings
In the 1970s and ’80s, our researchers were the first in the world to describe how beta blockers and ACE inhibitors can save the lives of people with heart failure. This discovery was made by Finn Waagstein and Åke Hjalmarsson, but Karl Swedberg too played a vital role in the context. The discovery revolutionised cardiac care and these medicines became standard treatment. Beta blockers are estimated to have reduced mortality by some 30%. Karl Swedberg has since continued to play an important role in the development of modern heart failure treatment through work with clinical trials and treatment guidelines.
- Establishment of the beta-blocker concept for treating myocardial infarction (Åke Hjalmarsson)
- Establishment of the beta-blocker concept for treating heart failure (Finn Waagstein)
Close connection between research and education
There is close cooperation between the Institute’s research and our education and training, in which many of our researchers too are involved. They supervise doctoral students and teach on our regular programmes, freestanding courses and vocational care programmes within Sahlgrenska Academy.