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ASKLEPIOS: A Longitudinal Biobank Improving Cardiovascular Healthcare

August 18th, 2018
ASKLEPIOS: A Longitudinal Biobank Improving Cardiovascular Healthcare

Asklēpiós was the ancient Greek God of medicine, a divine physician who bestowed health on the ill and wounded through his great skill and talent, elevating the art of medicine. Today we find ASKLEPIOS taking on a very different form but once again, with the aim of elevating healthcare. ASKLEPIOS is in fact a longitudinal study based at Ghent University, which is following over 2,500 healthy Belgian citizens over an extended period of time. These citizens provide their biological samples and data, which are deposited in the biobank and then made available to researchers working in the area of cardiovascular aging, namely changes relating to aging in the heart and blood vessels. The purpose is to better understand how we age and how our heart functions as we get older, as well as to develop better methods that help to prevent cardiovascular risks.

 

This study has brought together over 2,500 random individuals living in Erpe-Mere and Nieuwerked, Belgium. During the first phase of the study, conducted from 2002 to 2004, these volunteers provided extensive information and data about their health and lifestlye through questionnaries, various tests, and their samples. The second phase of the study followed after a 10-year period and is currently ongoing. Researchers are now re-examining all 2,500 volunteers using the same tests, along with additional examinations, such as sleep testing. The biobank has played a pivotal role in the ASKLEPIOS study, enabling researchers to conduct analyses that reveal findings over the course of the decade, with the objective of translating and implementing these overall findings into healthcare guidlines and practices.

 

These volunteers are not only contributing to scientific research concerning aging and cardiovascular disease but they are also being informed about the state of their overall health. Along the way, each volunteer has also been provided with individual results, enabling them to receive more personalised healthcare advice. Furthermore volunteers find themselves empowered to improve their own health by being able to make more informed decisions about their lifestyle choices.

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