Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


British Regional Heart Study

Supervisor: Professor Goya Wannamethee

The Cardiovascular Epidemiology Group includes major longitudinal research on risk factors for cardiovascular disease, in particular the British Regional Heart Study (BRHS) of over 7000 men recruited through general practice. The successful candidate will work within a team principally of statisticians and epidemiologists, with strong links to collaborators who are applied methodologists and experts in primary care. The projects will suit a candidate with a background in medical statistics or epidemiology and experience in analysing large datasets. The BRHS is a prospective cohort of men with over 35 years of follow-up and allows investigations on prevention and prediction of a range of chronic diseases from middle to older ages. Possible areas of investigation include CVD (coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke), diabetes, risk factors (diet, physical activity, novel biomarkers), and a range of ageing conditions (disability, frailty, poor oral health).

Project: The role of diet and nutritional status in the prevention of heart failure

Supervisor: Professor Goya Wannamethee

It is well recognised that a healthy diet in particular a Mediterranean diet prevents coronary heart disease. Incidence of heart failure (HF) increases steeply with age. While previous myocardial infarction (MI) is a major risk factor for development of HF, HF in the elderly is not often preceded by an MI. Less has been studied on the role of diet in the prevention of HF in older adults. There is suggestion that the Mediterranean diet and diet high in antioxidants may also be protective against HF. Emerging evidence suggests that fatty acids may have a protective role but the findings have been inconclusive. Prospective data from the British Regional Heart Study (BRHS) will allow the opportunity to investigate the relationship between diet quality, dietary patterns and nutritional factors (blood markers of fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium) in relation to risk of incident HF in a prospective study of 4000 men followed up for over 12 years. 

Project: Vitamin D and healthy ageing

Supervisor: Professor Goya Wannamethee

Epidemiological studies suggest that vitamin D insufficiency is related to increased mortality and a number of diseases and disorders including cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancers, hypertension, functional decline and declining cognitive function. Although intervention trials have failed to find a beneficial effect of vitamin D supplements on CVD risk, there is likely evidence from meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials that vitamin D may improve overall mortality in elderly people. Vitamin deficiency is common in older people over 65 and a greater understanding of the relationship between vitamin D status and health outcomes in the elderly is needed and to identify the level (thresholds) for vitamin D which is associated with poor health outcomes. Prospective data from the BRHS will allow the opportunity for the investigation of the association between serum 25(OH)D levels (the best indicator of vitamin D status) and a wide range of diseases and health outcomes including CVD (CHD and stroke), cancers, all-cause mortality and functional decline in an established population of men >60 years and identify threshold levels associated with poor outcome. 

Project: Life's simple 7 and cardiovascular aging

Supervisor: Professor Goya Wannamethee

The incidence of cardiovascular disease and heart failure increases steeply with age and are major contributors to disability and mortality. Life's Simple 7 is a new metric based on modifiable health behaviors and factors that the American Heart Association uses to promote improvements to cardiovascular health (CVH). The metric includes body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, physical activity (PA), cigarette smoking, and diet. Prospective data from the 7 BRHS will allow opportunities to investigate the impact of Life's simple 7 over the lifecourse on cardiovascular disease and related disability in older age. 

Project: Oral health of older people

Supervisor: Dr Sheena Ramsay

There are also opportunities to investigate oral health of older people in the BRHS, including lifecourse social, environmental and biological determinants of oral health in later life, and interrelationships with other ageing conditions.

Contact: g.wannamethee@ucl.ac.uk