Health study: UKE examines volunteers

Health study: UKE examines volunteers

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UKE participates in the largest German health study

As part of the largest health study in Germany to date, 10,000 volunteers are medically examined at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) and asked about their lifestyle and social environment. The aim is to "investigate the causes and risk factors for the most important common diseases - including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, dementia and depression - in more detail," said the UKE announcement.

The mass examination at the UKE is part of the National Cohort (NAKO), in which 200,000 participants between 20 and 69 years of age in 18 study centers across Germany are to be examined over a period of 20 years to determine the causes and risk factors of the common diseases. The researchers also hope to identify opportunities for early detection and prevention. "The National Cohort is intensely concerned with the question: How do we stay healthy and what makes us sick," explains the study leader from the Institute for Medical Biometry and Epidemiology at UKE, Professor Dr. Heiko Becher.

Medical examination of the volunteers According to the UKE, the study participants are randomly selected with the help of the residents' registration office. The first citizens of Hamburg had already received their invitation. In the next four years, a total of 10,000 volunteers are to be examined in the newly established study center on the UKE site and after four years there will be a second examination, according to the university hospital. As part of the two-and-a-half to four-hour health check, the test subjects are not only asked about their lifestyle and previous illnesses, but they also undergo detailed medical examinations. In addition to measuring height and weight, “examinations of vascular diseases (for example pulse wave analysis) are carried out, concentration and memory tests as well as lung function tests are carried out and hand strength, sugar metabolism, blood pressure and body composition are measured,” reports the UKE. In addition, a blood picture is taken in the laboratory and the cholesterol level is determined.

Voluntary commitment is decisive for the success of the study According to the second mayor and science senator of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeldt, heavily dependent on the commitment of the population. "Every single participant is helping to advance research into common diseases." In the long term, the health situation in Germany will improve significantly based on the knowledge gained. A prerequisite for participation is an express declaration of consent from the persons contacted. In addition, those affected can determine “whether they want to be informed about the results of the investigations,” reports the UKE. An independent advisory board controls compliance with the ethical standards and a concept coordinated with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection ensures the safe and sensitive handling of the data.

Improving early detection and prevention The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and board member of UKE Professor Dr. Dr. Uwe Koch-Gromus emphasized that the central participation in this study, which has so far been unique in Germany, was a special honor for the UKE. "We see this as a scientific mandate to work even more preventively and clinically on the health and disease development of the population," continued Gromus. The health study is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, 14 federal states and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, reports the UKE. The largest German health study to date is one of the most expensive examinations to date in Germany, with an estimated cost of 210 million euros. According to those responsible, the hoped for results justify the enormous effort. Because, for example, if I develop new approaches to prevention, they can significantly reduce future expenses for treatment costs. (fp)

Image: Bernd Kasper /

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