La Unit Cardiomyopathies (formerly the Regional Reference Center for Cardiomyopathies) was born out of curiosity and the desire to improve care for patients with heart muscle diseases and in particular with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which since 1980 was being diagnosed with increasing frequency.
For this reason, the real care activity was immediately associated with research, together with Italian and foreign study groups, such as London, Bethesda (NIH), Minneapolis and Boston in particular. Going back to the origins, the first efforts were dedicated to the description of the pathologies themselves, then largely unknown, and to the understanding of the course and the associated clinical risk, such as, for example, the risk of "sudden death" and the risk of cerebral embolism in patients in Atrial fibrillation in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In 1999, genetic research was started in patients with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, in collaboration with Dr. Francesca Torricelli and the activity with the Institution of the Regional Reference Center for Cardiomyopathies was recognized.
In 2003, a broader and deeper research activity began, thanks to the collaboration with the research groups of the University of Florence (Prof. Corrado Poggesi, physiologist and Prof. Elisabetta Cerbai and Prof. Alessandro Mugelli, cell electrophysiologists, and Prof. Magdi Yacoub, internationally renowned cardiac surgeon and later Dr. Pierluigi Stefano). The unsatisfactory results of septal alcoholization in obstructive CMI led to the initiation of myectomy surgeries and at the same time to the acquisition of portions of "living" muscle tissue extracted with myectomy. This allowed to extend the research activity to the molecular causes of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and to the genetic basis, as well as to the improvement of the intervention techniques, with excellent results in all patients. In 2004 he also began the evaluation with cardiac magnetic resonance with Gadolinium, which allowed a more accurate definition of the myocardial structure, also for the purpose of myectomy.
In the same period, research projects directed by Prof. Yacoub were launched in Qatar and above all in Egypt, which made it possible to train several Egyptian cardiologists and geneticists in Florence, who currently work in the Cardiovascular Center of Aswan (Egypt), which then developed from 2009.
In the last decade, large international registries have been established, together with the Rotterdam and / or London Centers in Europe, and numerous centers in the United States, capable of collecting data on thousands of patients and decisively increasing the quality of clinical information. . In the same period, trials began on the first drugs capable of influencing the molecular basis of diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Fabry disease and cardiac amyloidosis. Today the Cardiomyopathies Unit, established in 2015, it is among the most established centers in the world in clinical trials in these areas. The research activity carried out in over 40 years in Florence has led to the publication by Prof. Franco Cecchi and Prof. Olivotto of over 200 scientific papers in major international journals, and to the presentation of the results in Courses and Congresses throughout the world. These results were also fundamental for the drafting of the Guidelines on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy of the European Society of Cardiology, published in 2014 and still today a reference point for all cardiologists.
The funds currently received through dedicated clinical and laboratory research calls, both national and international, exceed two million euros.