The Million Women Study is one of the world's largest studies of cardiovascular disease in women
The Cancer Epidemiology Unit also has a strong programme of cardiovascular research
Researchers from the Million Women Study and EPIC-Oxford use record linkage to hospital records and to death registries to identify diagnoses of cardiovascular diseases. EPIC-Oxford, which includes large numbers of vegetarians and vegans, offers a unique opportunity to investigate the relationship between diet and cardiovascular disease, and is also part of EPIC-Europe, a long-term cohort study of 500,000 people. Meanwhile, with over 100,000 cases of heart disease and 20,000 strokes identified through linked databases, the Million Women Study has become one of the world’s largest studies of cardiovascular diseases in women. CEU researchers study the effects of known cardiovascular risk factors, as well as less-studied exposures including reproductive history, vegetarian and vegan diets, and early life and social factors. Increasingly, we are incorporating blood-based studies into this work, including genetics of heart diseases, stroke and venous thrombosis. Funding for this research is provided by the Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence, Oxford.
Researchers from the Million Women Study are working to better understand cardiovascular risks in women, including known risk factors such as obesity (Canoy 2012), smoking (Pirie 2013), and physical activity (Armstrong 2015), as well as much less well-studied reproductive factors (Canoy 2014) and shiftwork. Researchers from the EPIC-Oxford study are also working to improve knowledge of how diet affects heart disease (Crowe 2013), including contributions to EPIC-Europe (Crowe 2012) and the EPIC-Heart consortium (Danesh 2008).
Stroke can lead to conditions such as dementia, and has a large impact on a person’s quality of life. In the Million Women Study, we are investigating the determinants of stroke risk in UK women.
Venous thrombosis, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism, is a common and often serious vascular disease. Research in the Million Women Study has shown that the risk of venous thrombosis is associated with use of hormone replacement therapy (Sweetland 2012), and greatly increased after surgery (Sweetland 2009, Parkin 2012, Sweetland 2013). We continue to investigate how venous thrombosis may be related to other diseases, such as cancer.
Aortic stenosis is one serious but uncommon vascular disease for which there are limited epidemiological data. CEU researchers have recently been awarded funding by the BHF Centre of Research Excellence, Oxford, to begin epidemiological and genetic studies of aortic stenosis.
We are working to expand the range of vascular diseases which are being investigated in the Million Women Study, EPIC, and other cohorts. This work includes methodological work in data linkage and validation of hospital diagnoses (Wright 2012).