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Approved research

SCaRLeT: Sex differences in Cardiovascular Risk across Life course Transitions

Principal Investigator: Dr Linda O Keeffe
Approved Research ID: 46919
Approval date: November 20th 2019

Lay summary

Heart disease and diabetes are leading causes of death globally. Therefore, preventing heart disease, by focusing on risk factors like obesity, physical activity and smoking, is essential for maintaining and improving the health of populations. Men and women do not experience heart disease equally. We know that risk of heart disease begins to take shape in childhood. For example, even in young children levels of heart disease risk factors like blood pressure can tell us about the risk of developing heart disease in adults. In addition, important risk factors like obesity, smoking and physical activity levels become established in childhood. In adults, research suggests many of these risk factors do not have the same impact on heart disease risk in women and men. This research, however, has several important limitations including the use of study designs that cannot tell us about whether there are sex differences in the causes of heart disease; a lack of studies that focus on understanding differences between the sexes in early life; and a lack of studies that focus on the steps or pathways that link each risk factor (such as smoking) with heart disease in each sex. Using different methods and study designs within UK Biobank and other cohorts that directly address some of these limitations, this project aims to improve understanding of the role of modifiable risk factors in sex differences in heart disease across the life course. This work will help to provide a better understanding of sex-specific CVD risk factors and potentially inform new prevention efforts for key CVD risk factors. This project will be of a duration of approximately four years, to support the work of an mid-career award from the Health Research Board of Ireland (application in progress and outcome to be decided in April 2019). However, given that UK Biobank only permits project durations of three years, we wish to seek an extension on this so that the data can be used for the duration of the award, if funded.