Being surprised by a heart attack or stroke will be a thing of the past in 10 years’ time. That is the aim put forward by the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance (DCVA), a new partnership of 12 organisations, scientists and healthcare professionals in the field of cardiovascular research. The DCVA was festively launched today during a presentation in the Muntgebouw in Utrecht.
Bundling strengths on a national level must lead to identifying cardiovascular diseases earlier, developing solutions faster and getting them to the patient and evaluating them. The common goal is to reduce the burden of disease by 25% by 2030.
Highways to applicable treatment
“The high burden of cardiovascular diseases forms the greatest health challenge of our future,” affirms Floris Italianer, director of the Dutch Heart Foundation and co-initiator of the DCVA. “Every day hundreds of people are suddenly confronted with heart failure, stroke or another condition. It is essential that we recognise and detect these severe diseases earlier and provide better treatment. That will only be possible if we all work more intensively together. The DCVA will build symbolic highways to guide medical breakthroughs and new technology in the field of early diagnosis and care to the daily practice of doctors and patients. We do not want anyone to be surprised by a heart attack or stroke ever again, and they must receive the best treatment.”
Better early diagnostic possibilities form one of the top priorities for the DCVA. This concerns new or improved tests, innovative diagnostic instruments and optimal use of data that people collect themselves.
Dr. Hans Bosker, chair of the Netherlands Society of Cardiology and an intervention cardiologist in the Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem, explains, “The current technology and techniques still to be developed enable us cardiologists to detect potentially severe conditions early on, such as heart failure, heart attack and arrhythmias, so suitable measures can be implemented in time. For example, how about a simple blood test that immediately reveals the status of your blood vessels. Or a reliable mobile app that detects deviations in your heartbeat or cardiac function in time to prevent them getting worse. Plus extensive registration of disease data will enable faster comparisons of treatments, revealing which treatment is the best and for whom.”
To achieve this goal, the DCVA anticipates a need for at least €1 billion in the coming decade for research, valorisation and implementation. The 12 partners are going to collaborate intensively with each other and with new partners to find the required manpower and means.
Partnership in alliances
Research groups from all universities and hospitals work together in alliances and are supported by their partners with the acceleration of valorisation and implementation. This ensures that the solutions reach the patient sooner. Attention is also paid to talent development, to ensure there are excellent researchers in the future, and the research infrastructure in the Netherlands is being improved. For example, the organisations are building a powerful data network, which will enable the sharing and reuse of heart tissue samples and data for follow-up research.
Scope of the problem: 106 deaths daily
Currently, there are approx. 1.4 million cardiovascular patients in the Netherlands. Given the greying of the population, changes in lifestyle and diabetes, this number is expected to rise to 1.9 million between now and 2030. That means that one in seven adults has a cardiovascular condition, leading to an early death and restricting lives.
Along with the impact this has on the patient and his or her environment, it leads to a considerable increase in medical costs. Each day 106 people die from a stroke, heart failure, heart attack or another cardiovascular disease. Around half of the people who suffer a heart attack had no evident prior symptoms. But there are often small, difficult to see indications.