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The work of this group is focused on prevention of cardiometabolic disease in the young. More people die from such disease worldwide than from any other cause. The majority of these deaths are due to coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke, potentially preventable conditions.

The United Kingdom, in common with most developed nations, has seen a significant reduction in the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) since the early 1980s. By the year 2000, for example, CHD mortality had fallen by 54%. Much of this change (~66%) was attributable to reduced rates of smoking, lower cholesterol due to better diets and statins, and reduced blood pressure, due in part to better treatment. Thus primary prevention strategies have had a major impact on CHD mortality, four-fold greater than that of secondary prevention. Nevertheless, CHD remains the single disease with the highest mortality in the UK. Economic modelling studies suggest that even prevention strategies with modest aims e.g. reducing mean cholesterol or blood pressure levels by 5% would have major health benefits and save the UK at least £100m annually. Thus, primary prevention strategies are medically effective and cost effective. However, primordial prevention has the potential for even greater benefits than can be achieved through existing primary prevention strategies alone.

Primordial prevention targets the earliest origins of CVD, with a focus on preventing the development of its risk factors, e.g. hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia or type II diabetes, rather than on their treatment. Unsustainable and escalating healthcare costs make better prevention an economic necessity. Our group aims to understand the abnormal metabolic and cardiovascular physiology in children that precedes the development of primary cardiometabolic risk factors and to establish strategies to normalise such physiology before irreversible organ damage and the development of disease occurs.


Alexander Jones holds a British Heart Foundation Intermediate Clinical Research Fellowship.

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