Pushing the frontiers of research to help those who suffer
Medical advances discovered by Medical College of Wisconsin cardiovascular researchers:
- Substances produced by brain cells to trigger the growth of new blood vessels, an important clue as to how the brain works to combat the effects of a stroke.
- How the body's reflexes control the heart and lung systems making general anesthesia safer.
- The critical link between kidney blood flow regulation and the development of high blood pressure.
- Female athletes experiencing amenorrhea (cessation of menstrual cycle) are at high risk for both cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
- Automated external defibrillators, used in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, double the chances of survival for cardiac arrest victims.
- A gene that helps regulate triglyceride levels in the body. Elevated triglycerides, a fat component in the blood, are a significant risk factor in heart disease.
- Techniques used during surgery and after surgery that resulted in the nation's best outcomes for a form of pediatric heart surgery (hypoplastic left heart syndrome surgery).
- Higher levels of the hormone aldosterone in African Americans with high blood pressure. Aldosterone is secreted by the adrenal glands and causes salt retention by the kidneys.
- The transfer of the renin gene from a strain of rat resistant to hypertension into the genetic background of a hypertensive strain restores the relaxation of cerebral arteries.
- Novel genetic variants contributing to left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertensive individuals.
- A way to create the first genetically modified rat using technology known as zinc finger nuclease, paving the way for the development of novel genetically modified animal models of human diseases.
- Genes partially govern where the fatty deposits develop within the heart's arteries in patients.
The Medical College of Wisconsin Cardiovascular Center is a multidisciplinary research institution focusing on the mechanisms of disease related to the heart, lung and blood vessels.
Within the Center, researchers use state-of-the-art techniques to learn the causes of cardiovascular disease at the cellular, molecular and genetic levels. What they learn is translated into patient care in our affiliated hospitals.
For example, Center investigators are defining basic mechanisms through which blood vessels grow into the heart and brain. Clinical research then takes this basic data and uses it:
- To develop drugs and therapies to enhance this growth in the heart and brain of patients with heart and cerebral vascular pathologies.
- To treat problems such as heart failure, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.
The Cardiovascular Center is internationally recognized
Established in 1992, the Cardiovascular Center's talented scientists have achieved significant accomplishments, including the identification of:
- Processes that induce the growth of additional blood vessels in the heart.
- Regulators of pulmonary, vascular and airway elasticity related to asthma and hypertension.
- Cell mediators that regulate circulation.
- A new role for astrocytes, large cells in the nervous tissue. The Center showed that these cells are responsible for managing blood flow to neural activity in the brain. We now know that diseases like Alzheimer's result from a lack of normal blood flow to neurons. This research will give way to new therapies for stroke, Alzheimer's disease and other cerebral/vascular diseases.
- How blood sugar plays an important role in determining how much damage a heart attack will cause.
- New genes associated with high blood pressure and heart disease in African-Americans.
- Women who exercise to the point that they develop amenorrhea (no longer have menstrual periods) run the risk of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems.