In the past decade, there has been significant progress in understanding sex- and gender-based differences in cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, this knowledge remains scattered across medical literature, highlighting the need for a centralized platform accessible to healthcare professionals, scientists, policymakers, and patients. The IMPRESS consortium aims to establish a knowledge platform focused on gathering, summarizing, and prioritizing existing knowledge related to sex- and gender-specific aspects of CVD. This initiative seeks to promote the implementation of existing knowledge into clinical practice, identify knowledge gaps, and inform policymakers about areas requiring additional attention.

In substantial portions of women with symptoms of myocardial ischemia, obstructive disease in the epicardial coronary arteries is absent. Currently, such women undergo multiple diagnostic tests, which do not always result in a conclusive diagnosis. IMPRESS seeks to reduce missed and delayed diagnoses of heart diseases in women, improving cardiovascular care outcomes nationwide. The knowledge platform will serve as a national resource, fostering collaboration and supporting the adoption of sex- and gender-sensitive practices in cardiovascular medicine.

The Research

IMPRESS consolidates existing knowledge, fosters research, and implements findings into practice wherever possible (for example by creating a Decision Support Tool for primary care and for cardiologists). Within the IMPRESS consortium, the following studies are being conducted:

  • Delphi study: delayed or missed diagnosis of heart disease
  • Silent heart attacks: causes, symptoms, and risk factors of silent myocardial infarctions
  • UMCU-IMPRESS pilot study: undetected coronary microvascular disease (CMD)
  • Peripheral-Flow: LASCA technique in CMD
  • Dutch registry of coronary function tests
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The IN-CONTROL II consortium builds upon the success of IN-CONTROL I, which highlighted the pivotal role of the microbiome in low-grade inflammation associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and related risk factors such as lipid levels and microbiome-derived metabolites. These insights are crucial for addressing the rising rates of CVD-related mortality, particularly in aging and overweight populations. The Focus The objectives of IN-CONTROL II are to: Investigate the mechanisms underlying trained immunity in CVD patients, considering factors like senescence, age, sex, and obesity. Elucidate the interactions between microbiome-derived signals (aromatic amino acids, metabolites, bile acids) and immune senescence in obesity-related cardio-metabolic diseases. Identify novel therapeutic targets and develop pharmacological and microbiome-based therapies to counteract inappropriate induction of trained immunity and inflammation in cardiovascular disease. The Research The consortium aims to shift from association to causality, from population-based cohorts to patient groups with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) and from observation to intervention. In this transition, it will also take advantage of recent developments in the network of the consortium, delineating cellular senescence as a druggable target for the broad spectrum of age-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, and identification of components of the bile acid-signaling system for this purpose. Another recent development of the recognition of innate immune memory (‘trained immunity’) as pathophysiological mechanism in atherosclerotic CVD. The consortium will conduct proof-of-principle trials in specific patient cohorts, employing advanced experimental techniques such as systems biology, single cell sequencing, innovative animal models, and metabolic flux quantification (fluxomics). A talent program will facilitate knowledge transfer and skill development for young researchers within the consortium, emphasizing rapid translation of research findings into clinical applications.
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