New means for diagnosing vascular diseases
Pediatric cardiologist Taisto Sarkola’s group develops methods based on ultrasound to study the cardiovascular structure and function of children at risk for long-term cardiovascular disease. The group is looking for solutions to monitor and prevent atherosclerosis in families at risk.
The development of adult cardiovascular diseases begins in childhood and possibly as early as the fetal stage. This process is affected by heredity, childhood diseases and vascular disorder as well as by various environmental factors.
In children, cardiovascular diseases which cause symptoms mainly present at birth. These malformations may impact the development of the cardiovascular system during growth and maturation, and Sarkola’s group studies these as well.
Researchers develop new non-invasive methods based on high-resolution ultrasound for the diagnostics of vascular diseases such as vasculitis in children and adults.
During the previous five years, a translational research group has been formed to study the development of blood vessels and heart in children. In addition to the principal investigator, the group includes PhD students, postdoc researchers and students completing advanced studies.
The group actively collaborates with the Dental Unit at the Children’s Hospital in the intervention project for promoting oral health in children with significant heart malformations (ORALPEDHEART). The group also collaborates with pediatric diabetologists in the MOHA project – a motivational interview intervention study to improve blood sugar levels and cardiovascular health in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. In conjunction with oncologists, the long-term effects of cancer treatments are assessed in the HSCT study.
Solutions are also being sought for the monitoring and prevention of early atherosclerotic changes in families at risk. Together with the Folkhälsan research centre, Taisto Sarkola’s group is involved in projects for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases in the setting of obesity, maternal gestational and pre-gestational diabetes, and hypertension (RADIEL and SIVELU studies).
– The collaboration with Folkhälsan is important and it has significantly contributed to the activities of our research group, Sarkola explains.
Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital