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Heart Disease and Heart Failure

These ongoing studies combine a multidisciplinary approach to identify mechanisms at the cellular level and relate these to functional effects at the whole organ (or animal) level. These types of studies are required to develop a complete understanding of gene function in health and disease. The implication of specific genes and signal transduction pathways as contributing to the pathogenesis of a disease process also facilitates the development and testing of new pharmacologic agents directed at prevention or treatment of cardiovascular disease. This is an exciting and rapidly changing time in science, especially so in cardiovascular pathophysiology. The department Faculty members are deeply committed to expanding our current understanding of these disease mechanisms and to training the next generation of physicians and scientists.

Heart failure is the end result of many different disease processes, but hypertension and diabetes are two of the most common risk factors. The challenge for investigators in this field is to develop an understanding of the complex mechanisms which cause progression from compensated ventricular remodeling to decompensated heart failure.

While cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, it is only after menopause that the risk of developing congestive heart failure dramatically increases in women. This is particularly evident in patient populations at greater risk such as diabetic patients and postmenopausal women. Both of these patient populations have a significant disparity in the overall rate of cardiovascular disease prevalence, morbidity and mortality as compared to the health status of the general population. However, the mechanisms responsible for the cardioprotection seen in premenopausal women have yet to be elucidated