Keeping an eye on the population’s heart

Following a nationwide study of the cardio-vascular health of the Luxembourg population, the Luxembourg Institute of Health has extended its observation and is now looking for another 1,000 volunteers among the general adult population. As the biobank of Luxembourg, IBBL supports this ORISCAV-LUX 2 project and the aim to prevent cardio-vascular diseases in the country.

A threefold participation

Similar to the first wave of the study, ORISCAV-LUX 2 targets adults, aged 25-80 years, who live in Luxembourg. The project, which poses no danger to human health or include any medication consumption, is designed in three steps. First, the participants are asked to fill in a health questionnaire at home. Second, they are invited to complete different medical examinations. Finally, they have blood and urine samples collected.

While part of the blood and urine samples collected are used to detect cholesterol levels, kidney problems and pollutants to name a few, the left-over samples are stored at the biobank in case additional analyses are required at a later stage. As well as the storage and transportation of the samples, IBBL is also responsible for preparing and delivering the collection kits. In order to guarantee the quality of the samples and to ensure the reliability of further test results, blood and urine are frozen at -80°C.

Alarming discoveries

Initially set up in 2007, with the support of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of High Education and Research, the first wave of the study included 1,432 volunteers and produced some alarming discoveries. Researchers found out that up to 80% of the residents in Luxembourg are afflicted by at least one cardio-vascular risk factor, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, smoking, physical inactivity or unhealthy dietary habits. More strikingly, the findings revealed that these estimated thousands of “apparently healthy” people were unaware of their condition, as these “silent pathologies” with no obvious symptoms are usually only diagnosed when health complications develop.

Prevention is essential to tackle the problem of cardio-vascular diseases, which have been the leading cause of death in Luxembourg over the last 20 years. To this end, the second phase of the project will allow public health authorities and health professionals to develop prevention strategies, based on the evidence and the real needs of the population. On top of that, the data and samples collected will represent a valuable resource for researchers, who are for example investigating the link between a healthy heart and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

 

The laboratory results and the medical interpretation of the examinations are sent to the participants. A copy can also be sent to their family doctors. The project data collected are kept strictly confidential by the Project Investigator – Alaa al Kerwi – and the samples which are sent to IBBL are pseudonymised. For more information, please visit http://oriscav.lih.lu/.