B3846 - SocialPaths Sex-specific social pathways to cardiovascular disease risk across the life course - 26/08/2021

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Kate O'Neill | University College Cork
Dr Linda O'Keeffe
Title of project: 
SocialPaths; Sex-specific social pathways to cardiovascular disease risk across the life course
Proposal summary: 

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death around the world and will continue to be so for the rest of the 21st century. After several decades of research, we know what causes heart disease but it remains a challenge globally to prevent it and much research is still required to inform new prevention strategies into the future. These prevention strategies require research that takes a different approach to the study of heart disease. In the past, much research on heart disease has focused on males and often ignored important differences between the sexes. This means that much of what we know about heart disease and how we go about preventing it today is based on research in males. As a result research which studies males and females separately and the differences between them is required.

In addition to the need to study differences between females and males, there is a need to study social differences in heart disease risk, since the risk of heart disease differs substantially by social factors such as education and income. However, though we know social inequalities in heart disease risk have existed for many decades and start as early as infancy and young childhood, reduction of social inequalities in health has proven challenging for society. This is because many social factors such as income or education are difficult to change. Thus research which focuses on the risk factors (smoking for example) which are easier to change and that link social risk factors like education and CVD across the life course is required.

Addressing key knowledge gaps in the sex-and social epidemiology of CVD across the life course, this project aims to improve understanding of the role of social risk factors in heart disease risk across a person’s life using a number of different approaches in world-leading studies of children and adults. Improving understanding of sex-specific heart disease risk can inform different, more effective preventions strategies in females and males than strategies informed by research which treat females and males the same. In addition, gaining a better understanding of the role social risk factors in the heart disease risk across the life course can inform realistic approaches for prevention of social inequalities in heart disease across a person’s life time.

Impact of research: 
SocialPaths will address three critical knowledge gaps which cross-cut limitations in understanding in the sex-specific aetiology of CVD and the role of social risk factors in CVD aetiology across the life course. Specifically, SocialPaths will focus on producing new knowledge with greater potential for translation to reduction of social inequalities in health using: •Life course approaches which can inform timing of intervention for social inequalities which takes account of the unique sex-specific aetiology of CVD across the life course; •Causal mediation methods which can be used for sex-specific investigation of modifiable pathways linking social risk factors and CVD risk and testing of hypothetical real world interventions for social inequalities in CVD risk across the life course.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 18 August, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 26 August, 2021