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The challenge

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in Germany and worldwide. In Germany, CHD has an overall incidence of 0.6% per year, indicating that approximately 500.000 patients per year present with newly diagnosed CHD each year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least half of the deaths and disabilities resulting from CHD could be avoided by improved primary or secondary prevention.

Despite advances in diagnosis and therapy, the mortality rate of cardiovascular disease still remains on a high level. In addition, within an increasing aging society, presumably the number of cardiovascular disease will also increase. To stop this trend intensified basic research and improved prevention, diagnosis and therapeutic strategies are needed.

In view of increasingly complex demands of cardiovascular medicine, the aim of the Munich Heart Alliance is to effectively decrease cardiovascular disease mortality by an integrated approach that includes both prevention of the establishment of cardiovascular disease via primary preventive measures and therapeutic targeting of established cardiovascular disease with manifest vascular and myocardial damage.

Main research focus is set on vascular disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, prevention and imaging.

Vascular disease

Vascular disease is mainly caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) due to a thickening of the artery lining from fatty deposits or plaques. Important issues to be solved are the identification of alterations taking place within the vasculature that lead to atherosclerosis and atherothrombosis and the validation of targets that can be translated into novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Heart failure

Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump blood through the organs and body with normal efficiency. It is a leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in Germany and may be due to failure of one or both ventricles. Knowledge of the mechanisms leading to heart failure will contribute to a better diagnosis of asymptomatic states and the development of novel drugs and treatment strategies.


An arrhythmia (also called dysrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm) is an irregular or abnormal heartbeat and leads in case of longer persistence to an improper blood flow. Hereditary and acquired arrhythmias represent a major public health problem and current therapies are inadequate. Novel mechanism-directed approaches have the potential to improve patient management.


The prevention of cardiovascular disease is an essential goal for the 21st century and requires knowledge of both risk factors and predisposition of cardiovascular disease. A better understanding of the mechanisms leading to cardiovascular disease helps to develop novel intervention strategies and to reduce the incidence and mortality rates of cardiovascular events.


Non-invasive imaging techniques are indispensable to early detect and diagnose cardiovascular diseases. An early detection and diagnosis is important for a therapeutic intervention well in advance before the heart is damaged irreversibly. Therefore, the development of novel risk assessment tools may permit an earlier and more targeted therapeutic treatment.