A study is hoping to reveal the early signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in order to create drugs to treat the condition before symptoms have developed.

Despite being the biggest killer in the Western world the individual causes of the various types of CVD: coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke, are largely unknown.

As part of a new £5 million study, researchers at the University of Glasgow and colleagues across Europe hope to identify early signs of physiological change in the body that indicate nascent CVD. The project is worth £557,000 to Glasgow.

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Dr Christian Delles of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, said: "We all know that smoking, over-consumption of alcohol and a high-fat diet can increase the risk of developing CVD but we currently know very little about the earliest stages of the disease."

He added: "At present, drug-based interventions are based on risk-factor control - for example through reducing existing high blood pressure or using statins to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, if we can identify early signs or biomarkers of the disease before symptoms arise, we have the opportunity to develop interventions to stop disease before it becomes a problem."