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What is the vasculature?

The vasculature encompasses the components of the vessel wall including endothelial and smooth muscle cells, as well as the cellular (e.g erythrocytes, platelets and various types of leucocytes) and soluble components of the blood itself.  The vasculature is highly dynamic in many aspects.  The vessel wall and blood are exposed to extremes of pressure differences and shear forces and, accordingly, the vasculature  has a pronounced capacity for remodelling and renewal. 

What is vascular disease?

Vascular disease is a complex process with multiple genetic and environmental factors affecting signaling, metabolism, adhesion, clot formation, growth, immune responses and many other cellular and molecular functions. Myocardial infarction and stroke, for example, arise from increased thrombosis that occurs in damaged arteries typically associated with atherosclerosis.

Vascular disease in Ireland

Vascular disease is a major cause of death in Ireland.  In 2010, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland published a study entitled ‘Making Chronic Conditions Count’ showing that chronic conditions such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes are expected to increase dramatically over the coming years. The study forecasts a 50% increase in the number of people living with coronary heart disease and a 48% increase in strokes in the Republic of Ireland by 2020. Our current understanding of the origins and mechanisms of vascular disease is limited, as are current treatment options.

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