Research Focus and Main research questions
Cardiovascular research, epidemiology, biostatistics and data management.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and morbidity worldwide and our research aims to understand the underlining pathophysiology and susceptibility to common cardiovascular diseases in the population. The aim of our research group is to detect the predisposition to cardiovascular disease as well as the detection of early, reversible stages of the disease in order to enable prevention and early intervention. We determine blood and tissue biomarkers and genetics including OMICs analyses of noninvasively assessed cardiovascular function in prospective cohort studies in both, initially healthy individuals and patients with manifest cardiovascular disease.
Integrating data from newly discovered and classical risk factors and association with incident disease will improve current risk algorithms to allow preventive, personalized cardiovascular medicine and identify intervention options. International collaborations in ERACoSysMed-funded consortia, AF-SCREEN International Collaboration , the Framingham Heart Study, MORGAM cohorts, and the BiomarCaRE project, among others, support this effort. Our research projects are integrated in the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research ( Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung e.V.: DZHK ) with its mission to rapidly and efficiently transfer results from research into clinical practice (translation). In our Horizon 2020 AFFECT-EU Project including 25 partners we address atrial fibrillation.
Risk prediction of atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia with significant comorbidity and mortality. Prevalence is increasing worldwide, with corresponding implications in the clinic and for the health care system. Preventive measures are needed, but relatively little is known about risk factors, except for a handful of established risk factors that we summarized in a risk score. However, these risk factors explain only 60% of the attributable risk in the population. New approaches to improve risk prediction are urgently needed.
AF is diagnosed by electrocardiogram (ECG). In an epidemiological study, we are investigating electrocardiographic changes that may lead to AF. In addition, innovative methods for biomarker determination, genetic and gene expression analyses are performed in cross-sectional studies and also prospectively to identify new risk factors. Prof Schnabel coordinates the international AFFECT-EU consortium that involves 26 partners word wide. Its major goal is to develop an accurate, risk-based and ready for implementation AF screening algorithm using digital devices, for early detection and reduction of AF-related health inequities, morbidity and mortality in Europe. Close cooperation between epidemiologists, electrophysiologists, and cardiac surgeons is essential for this purpose.
Our data will provide new insights into epidemiology and prevention, as well as expand the pathophysiological understanding of the disease and potentially reveal therapeutic pathways.