Keeping the heart of patients at the heart of everything we do

For over 60 years Novartis has been committed to helping people with cardiovascular disease and we remain steadfast in that commitment to this day.

Aug 05, 2019

Matters of the heart

The heart, and how to fix it when it is no longer working, has been an important area for us at Novartis. It has been the focus of our research and commitment, where we’ve won awards, where we are striving forwards in the discovery of new management options, and most importantly where we have seen the huge impact of our work on the lives of patients.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally1. Eclipsing starvation and infectious diseases as the most critical health concern, cardiovascular disease poses a serious threat - one that cannot be ignored.

We started our quest into helping people with cardiovascular disease over 60 years ago. Since then, we have been committed to reimagining the standard of care for some of these progressive and potentially life-threatening cardiovascular conditions, and we remain steadfast in that commitment to this day.

Doctor examines patient by listening to their heartbeat
The heart is the engine for life and at Novartis we want to ensure the best life for all patients with cardiovascular disease. With a rich history of experience in hypertension, diabetes and heart failure, and ambitions to improve the lives of all patients today and in the future, we are committed to helping all.

Our commitment to research into heart failure

Heart failure is a complex, debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. This leaves patients fatigued and short of breath, with a diminished quality of life and at risk of hospitalization or sudden cardiac death.

There are currently at least 26 million people worldwide living with heart failure2. It is estimated that 83 percent of patients with heart failure are hospitalized due to an acute heart failure episode at least once, and nearly half (43 percent) are hospitalized at least four times3. Hospitalization of patients with heart failure represents a short-term risk of death or being re-admitted to the hospital and as such is an important area of research for Novartis.

Heart failure represents a major health-economic burden that currently costs the world economy an estimated $108 billion every year in both direct and indirect costs4. It is therefore not surprising that in 1997 heart failure was singled out as an emerging epidemic.

Our research has been focused on directly addressing the heart beyond the symptoms and co-morbidities of heart failure.

Solving the clues that lead to cardiovascular disease

We know how important it is for patients, their loved ones and the wider community to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke. For some patients, early detection and management of co-morbidities and risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity decreases their chance of cardiovascular disease.

Another risk factor includes high Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], which has been identified as an independent factor in cardiovascular disease. Lp(a) levels in patients cannot be modified by lifestyle (e.g. exercise or diet) and there is currently no therapy to significantly reduce Lp(a) and improve cardiovascular disease outcomes in patients. It is known that high levels of Lp(a) predispose for numerous cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke and about 20% of patients with established cardiovascular disease have elevated Lp(a).

We are committed to continuing investigations into why people with high Lp(a) levels are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, with the aim of helping people with high Lp(a) feel better and live longer by reducing the risk of conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

Beyond the heart... our focus in renal diseases

However, we will not stop there. Our growing understanding of cardiovascular disease, alongside diseases of the kidney, has highlighted the link between these conditions. We understand the importance of holistically addressing patient needs to reduce the significant impact these diseases have on their lives.

Many patients with kidney disease face the prospect of progressive deterioration of their condition. It is estimated that 1.2 million people died in 2015 from kidney failure globally, an increase of 32% since 20055. Despite the high unmet need, there has been little innovation and progress made in this area over the past several decades.

Our Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism team is therefore committed to making a real difference to the many patients suffering with these severe diseases.

Grandmother with kidney failure and her granddaughter go for a walk
Although often considered a co-morbidity of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, kidney disease has numerous complex causes. Unfortunately, an estimated 5–10 million people die annually from kidney disease. At Novartis, we recognize the unmet need for patients with kidney disease and are committed to making a real difference to the many patients suffering with kidney disease.

Novartis has helped cardiovascular disease patients for decades & remains committed to these patients today and in the future

A helping hand for those impacted by heart failure

Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump blood around the body efficiently. Whether you are a heart failure patient, a carer, or a supporter, our Keep It Pumping community is here to help give answers to your questions, build understanding of heart failure and connect people across the globe impacted by the condition.

Keep it Pumping is here for you


  1. World Health Organization, Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). [Accessed July 2019]
  2. Savarese G and Lund LH. Global Public Health Burden of Heart Failure Card Fail Rev. 2017 Apr; 3(1): 7-11.
  3. Yancy CW. et al., 2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013; 62(16):e147-e239.
  4. Cook C, Cole G, Asaria P. et al., The annual global economic burden of heart failure. Int J Cardiol. 2014.;171(3):368-76.
  5. World Health Organization, The global burden of kidney disease and the sustainable development goals. [Accessed July 2019]