A BILATERAL RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP ON THE INFLUENCE OF CARDIOVASCULAR RISK FACTORS AND THEIR INTERACTION WITH SLEEP
Objectives and activities
The aim of this project is to develop a collaborative research team investigating cardiovascular disease risk factors and how they relate to brain structural measures and cognition, as well as the effects of modifiable lifestyle factors (specifically sleep and physical activity). The team based their investigations on a longitudinal dataset acquired in a Brazilian town (the Baependi Heart Study) which contains a wealth of relevant indices.
A visit to the University of São Paulo by Dr Simon Evans, Professor Malcolm Von Schantz and Sabrina Ahmed (PhD student) allowed the core project team to set out the scope, timeline and responsibilities for the project. This meeting also engaged key external collaborators from the University Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). A successful workshop was also conducted involving presentations from Surrey visitors, USP staff and those involved in the Baependi study. Masters students from Prof Pedrazzoli’s lab also attended to learn more about the proposed methods of analysis. This was followed by a subsequent visit to São Paulo, during which Dr Simon Evans developed the data analyses, working closely with Prof Pedrazzoli and his students and with Prof Evangelista (USP).
Initial analysis of the data has revealed that light exposure patterns (measured using wearable technology) affects health parameters. Specifically, more light exposure during the day (and lower levels of light at night) is associated with a lower body mass index and a reduced risk of cardiometabolic health problems (such as high blood pressure, poor glucose regulation and high cholesterol). This findings highlight the importance of modifiable lifestyle parameters in protecting against poor health outcomes. Ongoing analyses will extend these findings by investigating how physical activity profiles (as well as light exposure) impact brain health and cognitive performance across the lifespan.