About the Center
The Center for Cardiometabolic Disease Prevention expands the scope and depth of research, clinical, and educational activities related to the prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with a goal of improving cardiometabolic health and promoting healthy aging. The center includes faculty in the Section of Atherosclerosis and Vascular Medicine as well as the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism to target the interrelated risk factors of cardiometabolic disease. Christie M. Ballantyne, M.D., is the director.
Cardiometabolic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are associated with a common constellation of risk factors, including dyslipidemia, hypertension, obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. In addition, diabetes is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in individuals with diabetes. Because of their shared etiology, cardiometabolic diseases require a coordinated approach for effective prevention and treatment.
Patient care encompasses the spectrum of cardiometabolic health and disease, and researchers in the center investigate biomarkers in known and potential causal pathways of cardiometabolic disease to identify additional risk factors that may lead to development of novel therapeutic targets. The collaborative environment provides trainees with a broad range of experiences and a solid foundation in all aspects of cardiometabolic disease.
Background and Rationale
The Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention began in 2000 as a joint venture between Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center to advance the prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Despite tremendous progress in prevention and treatment, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and death rates for heart disease are increasing after decades of decline, related to increases in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. In Harris County, almost 70 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and more than 10 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes. Obesity and diabetes increase risk not only for ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease/stroke but also for heart failure. In addition, diabetes is strongly associated with hepatic steatosis, which is now the most common cause of cirrhosis. Diabetes and hypertension are also strongly related to accelerated cognitive decline and dementia.
A more comprehensive approach to the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic disease is needed to reverse these alarming trends. The dramatic increase in the clinical sequelae of cardiometabolic disease related to increases in diabetes and obesity, advances in understanding the complex interactions between diabetes and obesity and cardiovascular disease pathophysiology, and the changing clinical paradigm mandate a systematic change both in medical practice and in medical training.
In 2017, the name was changed to reflect the urgent need for broader preventive strategies to address the current and growing crisis and to improve health and healthcare locally, nationally, and internationally.
The Center for Cardiometabolic Disease Prevention offers an exceptional training experience for fellows in both the Lipid Metabolism and Atherosclerosis Fellowship and Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship Programs.
Trainees benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to cardiometabolic disease prevention and treatment as well as exposure to clinical scenarios that range from common abnormalities to rarely encountered genetic disorders. Faculty at the center are committed to preparing future leaders in cardiometabolic disease prevention and research to address the growing epidemics of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
Research in the center includes basic science, clinical, and translational projects. The coordinated efforts of basic scientists and clinicians enables novel concepts to be explored, developed, tested, and ultimately evaluated for translation into clinical practice.
Basic science research reflects diverse approaches to determine the mechanisms involved in cardiometabolic disease, with a goal of identifying novel targets for development of future therapies.
Clinical research focuses on identification and targeting of established and emerging risk factors, with a goal of improving risk assessment and risk reduction through improved treatments and preventive strategies.
Key research components include The Maria and Alando J. Ballantyne, M.D., Atherosclerosis Clinical Research Laboratory and the Lipid Metabolism and Atherosclerosis Clinic.
Ongoing clinical research evaluates the effects of diet and drug interventions on cardiometabolic disease characteristics and prevention. Current studies include NIH-supported projects and industry-sponsored research. Participants are essential to medical research and make important contributions to improving medical practice and human health. Individuals interested in participating are encouraged to contact the study coordinator to determine eligibility.