Major BHF grant for George Institute research

The UK’s leading heart charity, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), will fund a George Institute project examining the differences between women and men in how diabetes affects the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, but earlier studies have found that it particularly increases that risk in women. This project aims to find out why.

Lead researcher in the study Dr Sanne Peters said, “Sex differences need to be routinely considered across all areas of health and medicine. Traditionally, most studies were done among predominantly male populations. It was assumed that research findings from such studies were equally relevant for women.

“Now there are more women included in studies, we increasingly start to see that there are clinically meaningful differences between men and women across all areas of health and disease.”

Potential reasons the diabetes increases the heart disease and stroke risk more in women could be that “women receive poorer health care following their diagnosis of diabetes than men. It may also be that biological differences between women and men, such as differences in body size or the distribution of body fat, explain this female disadvantage,” said Dr Peters.

Each year, BHF offers £100 million for research into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the heart and circulation. It awarded Dr Peters’ study with a short-term research project grant lasting up to three years and worth £300,000.

“BHF’s mission is to win the fight against cardiovascular disease and their vision is a world in which people do not die prematurely or suffer from cardiovascular disease. We at The George Institute have the same mission to improve health for millions of people around the world, so we are very grateful to BHF for this grant,” said Dr Peters.

Knowledge of the sex differences in diseases means doctors and health workers will be better equipped to treat their patients.

“Better insight into these differences and similarities between sexes could not only improve the understanding of diseases, but could also guide health practitioners and policy makers in making the best decisions for the prevention and treatment of diseases,” said Dr Peters.

Women’s health is a key area of research for The George Institute. In February 2016, The George Institute and Oxford Martin School called for global and national women’s health strategies to focus on non-communicable diseases, which kill more than 18 million women a year worldwide.