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Innovations in Cardiovascular Science: ‘The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know’

news editor8 May 2013

Front cover photo

pencil-iconWritten by Dr. Sherbano Ali Khan (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science MSc student)

Despite significant medical and therapeutic advances in cardiology in recent years, cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer in the UK and a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.

On Monday 22 April 2013 the UCL Cardiometabolic Science Domain hosted the Innovations in Cardiovascular Science Symposium with the aim of encouraging new interdisciplinary links and collaborations to help tackle this pressing global health issue.

The symposium (which focused on hypertension, heart failure and therapeutic innovation) brought together more than 150 doctors, surgeons and scientists to showcase and discuss some of the cutting-edge research that is currently taking place across UCL, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and UCL’s partner hospitals.

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A grey area: do the elderly hold the key to tackling non-communicable disease?

news editor6 December 2012

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.

Written by Amelia Tait of the UCL Institute for Global Health.

On Tuesday 4 December, the Attlee Suite in the Houses of Parliament was filled to the brim with more than 140 audience members, policy makers, and global health experts from around the world meeting to discuss the growing global burden of non-communicable diseases.

Professor Anthony Costello, Director of UCL’s Institute for Global health, chaired the debate and opened by remarking that the “wicked problem” of NCDs accounts for 63% of deaths worldwide.

Non-communicable or lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are medical conditions of a non-infectious nature, and – in Costello’s words – are “the biggest killer of people in the world”.

Learning from HIV?

The panel’s experts led a debate on the ways in which the NCD movement can learn from the precedents set by the HIV/AIDS movement in the 1980s.

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Genetic testing for risk of Heart Disease: fact or fiction?

news editor28 February 2012

Professor Steve Humphries (UCL Institute of Human Genetics and Health) delivered an insightful and comprehensive Lunch Hour Lecture, on 23 February, regarding the issues surrounding genetic testing for risk of heart disease.

The lecture was broken down into four manageable chunks: (1) The causes and mechanisms of heart disease (2) What is a gene? (3) What is SNP and how is it useful? (4) How can we use DNA tests?

The causes and mechanisms of heart disease
To begin the lecture Professor Humphries challenged the audience to suggest known risk factors for heart disease. This was effective in engaging the audience and a wide-ranging list was compiled, including: high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, age and male gender. The risk factors could be genetic or environmental, but in reality, many are a combination of both.

Professor Humphries then proceeded to explain briefly the mechanisms of heart disease illustrating his points with some supportive graphics.

To summarise, he described the fact that after being born with clean arteries there can be the process of ‘silent build up’, which takes place in early adulthood. Although this can be reversed, in many it will lead on to fatty streaks, atherosclerotic plaques and in the unfortunate; chest pain, plaque rupture and myocardial infarction.

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