Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Ladwig
Head of Research Group 'Mental Health'

Phone: +49 89 3187-3623
Fax: +49 89 3187-3667
Building/Room: 56/210

Group: Mental Health Epidemiology

Karl Heinz Ladwig is Professor of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychological Medicine at the Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and is affiliated to the Department of Psycho-somatic Medicine and Psychotherapy. He is also Head of the Mental Health Epidemiology Unit of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich. As clinical epidemiologist, he coordinates the mental health issues of the Institute. Major research topics of KH Ladwig comprise mental health related stress research in psycho-diabetology, psycho-cardiology (bio-behavioural concepts in cardiology) – both in risk factor epidemiology and clinical research – aging research and psycho-traumatology.

Based on clinical experience and research on stress-induced sequel of behaviour in cardiac patients, more than twenty years ago, a research group in Montreal (Canada) and Ladwig’s group in Munich broke new ground independent from each other by introducing the “post infarction depression” as a new and promising psychological phenotype in cardiology. Since then, his research has contributed (among others) to the prognostic impact of post-infarction depression on case fatality and morbidity, quality of life in survivors of sudden cardiac death, cortisol responses in stress reactivity in patients with ventricular arrhythmias, covariates of intra-cardiac pain perception and gender differences in symptom reporting.

Psychosomatic concepts are now getting implemented in many policy documents and guidelines on various sub-topics in cardiology. Recently, growing evidence of an interaction between onset and disease progression of a variety of cardiac disease conditions with psychosocial factors has prompted the Clinical Commission of the German Heart Society (DGK) to call for a state-of-the-art paper on this issue which was realized under the auspices of KH Ladwig and has been released in an updated edition in 2013/14.

  • Ladwig KH, Kieser M, König J, Breithardt G, Borggrefe M, Affective disorders and survival after acute myocardial infarction. Results from the Post-Infarction Late Potential Study. Eur Heart J (1991) 12: 959-964.
  • Ladwig KH, Röll G, Roth R, Breithardt G, Borggrefe M, Contribution of Post-Infarction Depression to an incomplete recovery six months after acute myocardial infarction. Lancet (1994) 343: 20-23.
  • Ladwig KH, Schoefinius A, Dammann G, Danner R, Gürtler R, Herrmann R, Long-acting psycho-traumatic properties of a cardiac arrest experience. Am J Psychiatry (1999) 156(6):912-9
  • Ladwig KH, Baumert J, Marten-Mittag B, Kolb C, Zrenner B, Schmitt C, Posttraumatic stress symptoms and predicted mortality in patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators: results from the prospective living with an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator study. Arch Gen Psychiatry (2008) 65(11):1324-30
  • Ladwig KH, Lederbogen F, Albus C, Angermann C, Borggrefe M, Fischer D, Fritzsche K, Haass M, Jordan J, Juenger J, Kindermann I, Koellner V, Kuhn B, Scherer M, Seyfarth M, Voeller H, Waller C and Herrmann-Lingen C, Position paper on the importance of psychosocial factors in cardiology: Update 2013. Ger Med Sci. (2014);12 :Doc09.

Beside the ongoing clinical work, he is now engaged in conducting studies focusing on bio-behavioural aspects of clinical epidemiology both in circulation diseases and in diabetes mellitus/metabolic disorders by applying data from the ongoing MONICA/KORA population based cohort study which is one of Europe’s most extended population based laboratories. Prof. Ladwig is currently involved in research analysing possible psychobiological pathways of sustained mental stress as a risk factor for the onset of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and cardiac events with focus on the interaction with markers of inflammation, autonomic hyperregulation and endocrine malfunction). He analyses psychological aspects of classical CHD and metabolic risk factors (adipositas, nicotine dependency).

He is coordinator for quality-of-life issues in the “Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation”. He is also collaborator in the multicentre DFG funded “Nicotine Addiction Study” and the “Cologne Smoking Cessation Study (CoSmos)”. He is principal investigator for the Mental Health chapter in the ongoing KORA AGE Study. He is collaborator and principal investigator of the Munich study centre of the multicentre DFG funded “SPIRRCAD Study” running in ten cardiology centres to determine the effect of a focused psychotherapy on the disease process of cardiac patients (for more details refer to the subchapter). Furthermore, he is member of the German Council on Suicide Prevention and was principal investigator of a large scale German Railway Suicide Prevention project and has been engaged in an EU project on this issue administrated by an international consortium based in Paris.

Among others, he is member of the advisory board of the German Heart Foundation (Deutsche Herzstiftung), and the Privatklinik Lauterbacher Mühle. He is member of the Munich Heart Alliance. He received several awards – among them the Roemer-Preis by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychosomatische Medizin und Ärztliche Psychotherapie und DKPM (Deutsches Kollegium für Psychosomatische Medizin) in 2008 and the Award 2016 of the Fritz Acker-Stiftung conferred by the German Society of Cardiology.