NIH Grants $6.78 Million To Study Progression Of Heart Disease

Researchers at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in Houston were recently awarded a $6.78 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to extend a 23-year-old large-scale, community-based study of heart disease.

“The ARIC study helps us understand how heart disease develops and progresses so that we can design therapies that will prevent or stop the progression of America’s most deadly disease,” said Dr. Christie Ballantyne, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Methodist and Baylor College of Medicine.

“Given the unprecedented level of information drawn through this study, we are able to accurately determine unique ways heart disease develops and progresses in different age groups, genders, races and communities across time.”

This information opens the doors to tailoring diagnostic tests and treatments in a more accurate and personalized way, added Ballantyne, who is also a member of the steering committee for the study.

ARIC, which stands for Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities, has closely monitored more than 15,000 people for cardiovascular disease, hospitalization and mortality from heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI) and heart failure, for the past 23 years.

The new grant funds another visit and extends the program, which will continue until December 31, 2014, a total of 28 years. The ARIC project has provided medicine with great insights into the development of heart disease. More than 750 articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals based on ARIC data.

A major objective of the ARIC renewal is to identify and characterize novel genetic and biochemical risk factors for cardiovascular disease using modern molecular, cellular and metabolic approaches. Eric Boerwinkle, PhD, at the University of Texas School of Public Health, is head of the DNA lab and a co-investigator on the grant.

“In addition to clinical data and imaging tests, we have a wealth of data on new biomarkers and genetic information that we could not have even imagined in 1987.

The large size of the study and extensive follow up helps us better predict who will develop heart disease or stroke, and who will have a recurrent event,” Ballantyne said. “Our goal is to apply this knowledge to develop better strategies for both prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in a more personalized manner.”

Source: Houston Methodist Hospital

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