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The scientific teams that will lead a new American Heart Association-funded research network charged with unlocking some of the mysteries behind heart failure have been selected, the organization announced Friday.

Some researchers say heart failure, which affects nearly 6 million Americans, is as deadly as cancer. It’s also costly, with treatment costs projected to double from about $31 billion in 2012 to almost $70 billion in 2030.

The AHA’s Heart Failure Research Network will fund four centers.

“These newly funded research networks targeting heart failure have the opportunity to redefine the disease,” said Clyde Yancy, M.D., past president of the AHA and chief of the cardiology division at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The centers are:

  • Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina: Researchers will address knowledge gaps related to heart failure and diabetes by studying the biology of the conditions and how to treat them.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: Heart failure often develops after a period of abnormal growth in the heart called hypertrophy. But not all patients with hypertrophy develop heart failure, and researchers want to understand why.
  • University of Colorado, Denver: Effective drug treatments for heart failure are limited, so the aim is to develop personalized, affordable medications that will benefit a large group of patients.
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City: Researchers want to know why a patient and a heart get better with an intervention – a shift from the standard approach of trying to understand why someone gets worse. The goal is to offer new treatment approaches.

Heart failure means that the heart isn’t pumping as well as it should, causing fatigue, shortness of breath and sometimes coughing. Everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries can be difficult. The condition can lead to significant disability and early death, Yancy said.

“This work is vitally important, as heart failure will strike one in five of us over 40. This condition is not about ‘them,’ it’s about all of us,” Yancy said. “We must be tireless in our pursuit of more answers, more therapies and more best practices.”

By 2030, every U.S. adult could be paying $244 each year for heart failure expenses, according to a 2013 policy statement from the AHA.

“The work that will take place at these centers is crucial, because heart failure is a growing epidemic as our nation ages – and because we know scientific research is our most powerful tool when it comes to preventing, treating and better understanding all cardiovascular diseases,” AHA CEO Nancy Brown said.

The heart failure network is one of several Strategically Focused Research Networks funded by the AHA. Others are studying prevention, high blood pressure, disparities, and women and heart disease. The association will launch obesity and children networks in 2017.