By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Research Network WP art

Four collaborative projects researching heart disease in women will focus on fasting, meditation, estrogen levels and the psychology of exercise, the American Heart Association announced Wednesday.

The grants were made possible through a $5 million gift made in 2015 by Bill and Sally Soter in support of the Go Red For Women Strategically Focused Research Network.

The network’s goal is to examine everything from the role of pregnancy in heart disease to heart failure with collaborative projects pairing institutions to take a deeper dive into specific areas.

The collaborative projects are funded with $1 million from the Soter gift. They include:

  • The timing of a nightly fast and how taking in fewer calories at night influences cardiometabolic risk in adults. Some windows of susceptibility may have a greater health impact. The institutions doing the research are Columbia University Medical Center and the University of California, San Diego.
  • A look at mindfulness cognitive therapy and if it could help prevent cardiovascular disease in diverse prehypertensive women. The institutions conducting the research are New York University and the University of California, San Diego.
  • If heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is significantly worse in post-menopausal women due to a decline in estrogen affecting heart muscle function. The institutions doing the research are Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, San Diego.
  • A deeper look at actigraphy, a method of monitoring human rest and activity cycles. The goal is to support the career development of a postdoctoral fellow whose research focuses on heart disease and stroke risk behaviors in Asian-American immigrants. This will be overseen by New York University and the University of California, San Diego.

Women have been historically underrepresented in heart disease research and the projects are a way to remedy that.

“We’re trying to make up time that was missed when only men were being studied,” said Sally Soter, who is a heart disease survivor. “More nationalities, including Hispanics and Asian-Americans, are being studied. It’s wonderful that the research is looking at a cross-section of diverse women — and it’s wonderful to be able to help by participating financially in making the research possible.”

The research lets scientists focus on unique aspects of biology and the environment that could affect heart disease in women, added Kristin Newby, M.D., professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and oversight advisory committee chair for the Go Red For Women Research Network.

The Go Red For Women Research Network is one of several networks funded by the AHA. Other Strategically Focused Research Networks study prevention, hypertension and disparities, heart failure, and obesity. The association will launch a new network focused on children in June, and vascular disease and atrial fibrillation networks in 2018.