Heart Disease – “We can crack the code”

Heart Disease – “We can crack the code”


Research in the Maersk Building The Heart Our research here focuses on understanding the scientific background of our heart’s pumping function and of the disease groups called heart arrhythmias. Our heart pumps at a very stable rate, approximately 100,000 times a day, where the heart lifts our blood up against a high pressure, in fact what corresponds to us having to lift five litres of blood 1.5 metres up from the ground every single minute, so we depend on this highly stable pumping function, with the heart beating day in and day out throughout life and not malfunctioning or stopping. We would like to understand what mechanisms, at molecular and cellular level, cause our heart’s pumping function to fail, so we are conducting basic research with huge application-oriented implications, both for patients’ treatment on a daily basis and for the development of new medicines. Our heart is activated by some pacemaker cells that are located up here in the heart, in fact in the atria of the heart. Then, a pulse runs from the atria across the heart – it is shown here in white how these pathways activate all muscle cells, so that the heart is emptied concentrically at once. This is how the normal heart rhythm is controlled. Heart arrhythmias may, for example, be caused by rapid irregular pulses or irregular electrical signals that travel across the heart, causing these arrhythmias. . It is a major health issue as approx. 1 per cent of the Danish population suffers from one of these heart arrhythmias alone, the type called atrial fibrillation, which is characterised by these irregular pulses, and the number increases as people get older, so among those aged 75 years or older, 8 per cent suffer from arrhythmias. And it is clearly a growing problem. To us, moving to the tower means better facilities for carrying out, in particular, molecular and cellular studies as well as organ studies. We will have state-of-the-art facilities with better technologies, so, in my opinion, the chance of research breakthroughs will increase as we will suddenly be able able to scale up our studies thanks to these technologies and the experimental setups which are made possible.