Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Trials

Heart failure is the term used to describe a set of symptoms and findings on examination that occur when the heart fails to pump as well as it should. There are many reasons why the heart may not pump properly including weakness and/or stiffness of the heart muscle, narrowed or leaking valves and abnormal heart rhythms. The commonest cause is narrowing of the arteries of the heart and heart attacks. Therefore, heart failure is a very common condition. Around 1% of people under 65 years of age have heart failure, but 7% of 75-84 year olds have heart failure and this increases to 15% in people older than 85. It is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation in patients over 65 years of age and it is an extremely costly condition for health services around the world. Heart failure can be a deadly condition, and the life expectancy of patients with heart failure is as poor as patients with some of the most common types of cancer.

Our aim is to understand this condition and help develop effective treatments for heart failure. We are also interested in the distribution of diseases that cause heart failure such as heart attacks. Effective treatments are available for heart failure including drugs called ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, aldosterone blockers and Prof McMurray has been involved in many of the landmark trials of drugs to treat heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions. Local collaborators include Prof Ian Ford at the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, Profs Naveed Sattar and John Petrie in the Metabolic Disease & Diabetes Research group, Dr Jim Lewsey in the Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment group and Profs Peter Langhorne and Matthew Walters.  Prof McMurray works on clinical trials with many international colleagues but has long-standing connections with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston (Drs Marc Pfeffer and Scott Solomon), the Duke Clinical Research Institute (Drs Rob Califf, Chris O’Connor, Chris Granger, Eric Velazquez, Mike Felker and Adrian Hernandez) and the Diabetic Trials Unit, University of Oxford (Prof Holman and Dr Bethel), Dr Aldo Maggioni, ANMCO Research Center, Florence Italy and Dr Lars Køber Department of Cardiology, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

In addition we are interested in the epidemiology (which is the study of health-events, health-characteristics or health-determinants in a population) of cardiovascular diseases and their treatment with a focus on heart failure but also heart attacks and stroke. We work in conjunction with colleagues from the Information and Statistics Division of NHS Scotland. Once again, this work involves international colleagues, Particularly Prof Simon Stewart at the Baker Institute in Melbourne, Australia.