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CNIC and Banco Santander set up research project on early cardiovascular risk factors

Madrid, Spain, April 7th, 2010. Felipe Ptriz, Secretary of State for Research and Emilio Botn, President of the Grupo Santander, signed today a milestone agreement giving birth to the PESA (Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis) CNIC-Santander trial. The project's main goal is to increase the knowledge about cardiovascular diseases. The investigation, headed by Valentn Fuster, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares* (CNIC) and Heart Director at the Mount Sinai in New York, will help improve current prevention strategies regarding atherosclerotic pathologies major cause of death worldwide-; additionally, this initiative will aim to identify risk factors and daily habits that certainly have an influence on these disorders' development. The final objective would consist on achieving an early diagnose before symptoms appear.

The Medical Services of Banco Santander and of the CNIC (this one under the control of the Ministry of Science and Innovation) will work together in this trial. So far, authors expect to enroll over 3.000 employees from Banco Santander, who will all have access to the best and more advanced imaging and lab technology, in which utility and accuracy are the main goal for the scientific community.

The PESA CNIC-Santander trial takes part in a series of relevant international investigations designed to improve diagnose and prophylaxis of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, this project is connected to a US-based trial assessing people of over 60 years old.

In this case, investigators expect to determine the association between cardiovascular risk factors, both emerging and traditional ones, and the evolution of the disease before symptoms show up. This is the reason behind the sample of population studied by PESA trial being based on healthy people between 40 and 54 years of age, a life period usually out free of this kind of disorders.

The PESA CNIC-Santander trial will cost around 22 million Euros and it will last about nine years. The Instituto de Salud Carlos III and the joined investment of Banco Santander and the Marcelino Botn Foundation will become the two equal sponsors of the project (50% and 50%). During this period, all participants will undergo different types of tests and will receive a periodic and detailed report regarding their cardiovascular health progression.

Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of death worldwide, being responsible for about 1,9 million deaths each year in the European Union. In Spain, they represent 35% of all deaths in men and 43% in women.

The appearance and progression of these pathologies are determined by the presence of risk factors: smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, overweight/obesity and diabetes, among others. Based on these parameters, physicians try to predict patients' risk to suffer a cardiovascular disorder, in order to implement adequate prevention measures. However, current strategies not always find the real risks until consequences are irreversible. This investigation will improve the detection of patients already affected but still asymptomatic.

According to Felipe Ptriz, Secretary of State for Research, this agreement "represents a new way of collaboration between public administration and the private sector in order to promote and strengthen Spanish R+D. Also, the preventive nature of the trial incorporates a new approach that is becoming established by the scientific community and means significant financial savings for society".

Emilio Botn, President of the Grupo Santander and the Marcelino Botn Foundation, has also underlined the importance of this initiative, highlighting the benefits for employees as well as its social impact, within the framework of the bank's and the Foundation's Corporate Social Responsibility policies and their contribution to investigation and knowledge generation in such important fields as health. "It will be an honor for us to collaborate with the CNIC in such a beneficial project for all. I think it will be a really good initiative for society in general, as I hope its conclusions will bring a better quality of life for many people. We are increasingly committing to becoming an example of prevention and our company can be proud of being worlwide leader when it comes to creating cardio-friendly workplaces and environments".

Valentn Fuster, Chairman of the CNIC, stated that "the PESA CNIC-Santander trial will certainly contribute to improving our knowledge about cardiovascular diseases, allowins us to do a better prevention of their serious consequences. Together with other big investigations, such as the High Risk Plaque (HRP) or the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), both of them American, the PESA project will help us settle the future basis for the fight against cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events already known as the epidemic of the 21st century".


Contact: Pilar Berengena
Spanish National Cardiovascular Research Center (CNIC)

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