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Cardiovascular Health

Coronary heart disease and stroke rank first and third among causes of death for Americans.  The division has an important emphasis on investigating the role of lifestyle factors, pharmaceuticals, biomarkers, and genetics in primary and secondary cardiovascular prevention.   Dr. Ken Mukamal  has studied the effects of behavioral factors - and particularly alcohol consumption - on the incidence and prognosis of myocardial infarction and stroke in a number of national cohort studies, including the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the Nurses' Health Study, the Cardiovascular Health Study, the Post CABG Trial, and the Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset Study.   He currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), an ongoing multicenter NHLBI-funded cohort study of older adults and has active NIH grants on novel biomarkers of endothelial function, oxidative stress, and adipocyte function in CHS and the Health Professionals Follow-up and Nurses' Health Studies. 

In collaboration with Dr. Murray Mittleman and other members of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit, Dr. Mukamal's work has examined determinants of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and dementia, predictors of post-MI mortality, subclinical atherosclerosis, novel cardiovascular risk factors, and the interrelationships of lifestyle factors with common genetic variation in candidate biochemical pathways.  The group also has methodological expertise in studying acute triggers of cardiovascular events, including particulate air pollution and alcohol consumption. In addition, Dr. Mukamal directed a pilot randomized controlled trial of black tea consumption with the BIDMC General Clinical Research Center, and he is currently directing a similar NIH-funded randomized controlled trial of alcohol consumption on novel cardiovascular risk factors and MRI-assessed aortic atherosclerosis.

Dr. Catherine Buettner, a physician-scientist focusing on the cardiovascular effects of complementary and alternative medicine, has examined correlates and consequences of CAM use in the Nurses' Health Study, NHANES, and other large cohorts.  She has completed a systematic review of the cardiovascular effects of ginseng, and currently studies the interaction of dietary supplements used with standard pharmacological treatment of cardiovascular risk factors.  This has included novel measurements of the physiology of statin-induced myopathy, its prevalence nationwide, and its amelioration with coenzyme Q10 in a randomized controlled trial.

Drs.  Angela Fowler-Brown and Christina Wee , in addition to their interests in the interactions of race with obesity, have also examined cardiovascular risk.  Using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, Dr. Fowler-Brown has demonstrated the importance of health insurance for cardiovascular risk prevention and, in conjunction with Dr. Mukamal, has studied the association of parity with risk of diabetes among women.  Dr. Wee has studied the effects of obesity on cardiovascular risk factors and on prognosis of coronary heart disease.