UCL News


Award-winning UCL research links walking speed and heart disease

20 November 2009


People walking ucl.ac.uk/epidemiology/" target="_self">UCL Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Dr Mark Hamer
  • Life-saving UCL research, revealing the link between walking speed and heart disease, has today won acclaim from leading medical research charity, the Bupa Foundation.

    Dr Mark Hamer (UCL Epidemiology and Public Health) and his team have shown that a simple short-distance walking test can identify underlying heart disease in adults in their sixties.

    The UCL team scooped the Bupa Foundation's 2009 Epidemiology Award because of the widespread ramifications of the study, which provides a simple and cost-effective first-stage diagnostic tool and a time-saving alternative to the more lengthy battery of tests traditionally used to identify heart disease.

    Dr Mark Hamer said: "We knew from previous research that physical fitness and
    function are key indicators of health for older people. Our challenge was to use this information to develop a simple, non-intrusive test that could identify early signs of heart disease risk - and walking provided the answer. By monitoring the speed at which older people walk just three eight--foot journeys, we can now estimate an individual's risk of heart disease."

    Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, deputy chair of the Bupa Foundation and medical director at Bupa said: "Cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the UK, so finding an easier way to spot the signs of the disease in older people has the power to save thousands of lives. This is exactly what Dr Hamer and his team have achieved and we are proud to recognise their important work, by awarding them the Bupa Foundation's 2009 Epidemiology Award."

    Dr Hamer received his Bupa Foundation Award at a ceremony at Lincoln's Inn in London on 19 November 2009.

    UCL context

    UCL Epidemiology and Public Health is a multi-disciplinary department whose staff aim to develop a better understanding of health and prevention of ill health through vigorous research and the development of research methodology. This knowledge is applied via undergraduate and graduate teaching, contributions to national and international health policy and contributions to the wider public understanding on health.

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