Leeson Group: Preventive Cardiology Research Group
Our aim is to develop better ways to identify early disease and improve cardiovascular health for young people. This is achieved by undertaking work in three areas: (1) Identification of novel markers of early disease to better understand how disease becomes established (2) Performing cardiovascular prevention trials in young adults to understand how to modify early disease and improve health (3) Application of artificial intelligence to imaging and research datasets to identify next generation imaging and management approaches.
Cardiovascular Health IN YOUNG PEOPLE
We use multimodality imaging (including echocardiography, magnetic resonance, vascular ultrasound and microvascular imaging) to identify the unique differences in cardiac, vascular and cerebrovascular systems that predipose young adults to heart disease and stroke. In conjunction, we assess changes in cardiovascular responses under physiological stress conditions and study molecular mechanisms from blood and tissue collection that underlie their increased cardiovascular risk.
Of the young adults we see with hypertension we have shown that up to 1 in 3 are likely to have been born to a mother who suffered severe pregnancy complications such as preterm birth or preeclampsia. As the mother is also at risk of hypertension and stroke early in life, we are particularly interested in identifying optimal strategies in families who have a history of pregnancy complications to improve current lifestyle and future cardiovascular risk
To determine the best management approaches we run, and collaborate in, several key randomised trials that explore optimal mode and timing of interventions in young people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. .
Through this work, we have formed strong collaborations with groups within the UK and internationally and work closely with the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Department of Paediatrics at the University of Oxford to ensure findings can be translated into clinical practice.
Echocardiography is the most widely used cardiac imaging modality to identify heart disease. We use artificial intelligence methodologies to identify novel ways to quantify and interpret images so that diagnostic accuracy is improved and prevention advice can be more targeted.
Our research programme relies on an extensive digital image research archive including 3D imaging, speckle tracking, stress imaging and contrast studies that we have collected over the last ten years. In addition, we have ongoing longitudinal echocardiography studies running that link together hospitals across the UK and internationally.
We are using these images in collaborative projects linking Cardiologists, Cardiac Physiologists, Biomedical Engineers, Computer Scientists, Computational Biologists and Industry. This work has now contributed to development of significant intellectual property including patents and two ultrasound-focused spin out companies.
Our experience in advanced analytics means we have also been asked to act as an imaging core lab reference centre for academic groups and commercial companies including development of bespoke imaging and quality control protocols for large scale cardiovascular imaging studies, such as UK Biobank.
Summary of our clinical studies
Effect of Prematurity and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy on Offspring cardiovascular Health (EPOCH) study
Exercise and blood Pressure Study Oxfordshire (ExPresSO)
Effect of Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension and Preterm Delivery on Maternal Cardiovascular Health (PVS)
Trial of Exercise to Prevent HypeRtension in young Adults (TEPHRA)
Young Adult Cardiovascular Health Trial (YACHT)