Special topic | Cardiovascular health in Berlin-Brandenburg

Whether heart attack, stroke or other heart problems: Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in Germany. Even though mortality has fallen in recent years thanks to new examination and treatment methods, there is still a lot to be done in research, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. In the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region, a wide range of players are tackling this challenge.


According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), diseases of the heart and blood vessels - also known as cardiovascular diseases - are responsible for over 40 percent of all deaths in Germany. The most common cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. 

Many cardiovascular diseases are chronic and have serious consequences if left untreated, as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research emphasizes. However, there are ways to influence risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes and to detect serious incidents in good time: In addition to health-conscious behavior, these include drug therapies and the holistic treatment of patients with the help of patient-centered or patient-reported outcome measurement. 

In the area of prevention, for example, a new center will be established at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin over the next ten years to conduct further research into cardiovascular diseases. The aim is to further expand the early detection of individual risks and the possibility of responding to them preventively. The establishment of the "Friede Springer - Cardiovascular Prevention Center at Charité" is being supported with 70 million euros from Friede Springer gGmbH and seven million euros from the state of Berlin. 

The German Medical Technology Association (BVMed) also highlighted the importance of prevention and the need to improve treatment on the occasion of World Heart Day on September 29. In this context, the plan of the Federal Ministry of Health to present key points for a legislative initiative to improve the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases was also supported. 

Using data to improve care 

In the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, a number of health initiatives and projects in Berlin-Brandenburg now rely on the collection of data on physical, mental and social health. Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin has been using patient-centered outcome measurements from the Berlin-based company Heartbeat Medical across the board since last year. Patients enter data on their physical, mental and social health on a tablet or their own device in all university outpatient clinics and during inpatient admission. The results of the standardized questionnaires are then available to the treating team in real time and can be compared and analyzed in a further step. 

The German Society for Hematology and Medical Oncology, based in Berlin, also deals intensively with such patient-reported outcomes (Patient-Reported Outcome Measures - PROMs) in its PRO working group. In addition to representatives from Charité and the Medical Care Center at Oskar-Helene-Heim, the members of the working group also include representatives from companies based in Berlin, including Takeda, Sanofi, Pfizer, Fosanis and PLATO Health. 

Telemedicine is gaining in importance 

Berlin-Brandenburg is also focusing on cardiovascular diseases in the increasingly important field of telemedicine. For example, the 5GMedCamp project aims to provide patients with telemedical support following implantation of a permanent left ventricular assist device (LVAD). This is to be achieved with a 5G-based continuous transfer of vital data in combination with a clinical decision support system based on artificial intelligence (AI). In addition to Charité, the project partners include Fraunhofer HHI and Charité's German Heart Center. 

The ARTEMIS project, whose partners alongside Charité include the companies Cyient, Synios and GETEMED Medizin- und Informationstechnik, is also concerned with data transmission in the cardiovascular field. The three-year project, which will run until the end of October 2024, aims to develop miniaturized ECG electronics that use AI to detect atrial fibrillation directly on the patient in real time. Among other things, early detection is intended to prevent fatal consequences such as strokes. 

In addition to working groups and projects, there are also several medical facilities in the metropolitan region dedicated to cardiovascular health. The largest of these is now the German Heart Center of the Charité (DHZC). The DHZC was established at the beginning of this year when Charité and the German Heart Institute Berlin - Foundation under Civil Law (DHZB) merged their cardiac medical facilities. With eight clinics and institutes, over 2,200 employees and around 470 beds, the DHZC is one of the largest heart centers in Europe. 

Technology for a healthy heartbeat 

Biotronik has a long tradition in the medical care of people with cardiovascular diseases. In 1963, physicist Max Schaldach and electrical engineer Otto Franke developed the first implantable pacemaker in Germany and subsequently founded the company. Biotronik is now represented in over 100 countries with its pacemakers, stents and implantable defibrillators as well as telemedical services and, with more than 2,000 employees at its headquarters in Berlin, is one of the largest employers in the healthcare industry in the capital region. 

Biotronik also works with other companies from Berlin, such as the medical device manufacturer Getemed: together they operate the digital patient management platform for heart failure inCareNet HF. The data for the platform comes from Biotronik, the external measuring devices such as body scales, ECG and blood pressure monitors from Getemed. Getemed also offers telemonitoring, vital function monitoring and cardiologic functional diagnostics worldwide.  

Berlin Heart is also a globally active company that develops innovative ventricular assist devices (VADs) for mechanical heart support from Berlin. With its innovations, Berlin Heart is the only company in the world able to support patients of all ages and sizes, from infants to adults. 

The company B. Braun Melsungen is also concerned about heart health. It manufactures innovative drug-coated balloon catheters in Berlin. Just like a conventional stent, these new catheters can provide a permanent opening of the coronary arteries, but are completely metal-free and offer a therapeutic approach without a permanent implant. 

Data and artificial intelligence - these are the tools of x-cardiac GmbH. Founded in 2020, the company is a spin-off from Charité's German Heart Center (DHZC). Founder and Managing Director, Prof. Dr. Alexander Meyer, recognized early on that the numerous values that are measured in patients in intensive care units, among other places, could and should be used better. The Berlin-based company is developing software that uses AI to detect patterns of post-operative bleeding or kidney failure after heart surgery and sounds the alarm before serious complications such as organ damage can occur. 

Aftercare and support 

The “Cardiolotse” project (Cardio guide) run by AOK Nordost and Vivantes, for example, provides aftercare for heart patients following a stay in hospital. The “Cardio guides” are available to cardiac patients and their medical and therapeutic caregivers as an additional point of contact for advice on everyday and professional issues. The aim is to provide better care and make the recovery process as successful as possible. 

Monitoring is the focus of the two start-ups MyParamedic and Noah Labs. They want to give heart patients more freedom and security at the same time. MyParamedic offers a digital cardiotherapy assistant as an app. After answering a few questions, a care plan is developed with exercises, and an individual cardiac rehabilitation program is created. An integrated AI assesses the patient's condition, analyzes vital parameters and adjusts the care plan if necessary. 

Noah Labs also uses AI: Using inconspicuous measuring devices, an app and AI, the health of cardiac patients is recorded regardless of location and evaluated in real time. If values show abnormalities, the doctors contact the patients. 

Regenerative therapies are also produced, developed and researched in Berlin. For example, the company Auto Tissue Berlin produces a cell-free tissue patch that can be used in heart surgery to repair or widen narrowed vessels, to close holes in the heart and to reconstruct heart valves. The medical technology company GrOwnValve wants to bring an autologous heart valve for the treatment of children and adults onto the market. With the help of the already patented procedure, cardiologists can produce a customized heart valve for patients within two hours during an operation and insert it minimally invasively via a cardiac catheter. GrOwnValve is currently in the preclinical phase. 

Are you interested in more information? Are you looking for project partners? Get connected with the HealthCapital Cluster Berlin-Brandenburg and contact us: info@noSpamhealthcapital.de 

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