New study will tackle three major killer diseases

10/05/04

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are launching a new two-year study aimed at improving treatment for three of Scotland's most common life-threatening diseases: heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The study will recruit 1,000 adults from one of the remotest parts of the UK-- the North Isles of Orkney. The islands have been chosen for the project because the people living there are isolated geographically, which means they share a more similar environment: there is less variety in occupations, diet and other factors compared with most other areas of Scotland.

The stability of the population also allows family trees to be traced back as many as eight generations, which will enable researchers from the University and the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh to understand the impact of genetic factors on the development of the three diseases.

Lead investigator Dr Jim Wilson of Public Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh explained: "The Orkney Cardiovascular Disease Study (ORCADES) will increase our understanding of the relative roles of inheritance and the environment in causing these diseases, and will include a search for any genes that predispose strongly to illness. The volunteers taking part in the project will have the benefit of a health check and will also be contributing to improving the health of the community in Orkney, and in Scotland as a whole, through medical research."

The project's volunteers will have their height, weight and blood pressure measured, and will have ultrasound tests to measure hardening of the arteries. Their blood sugar and cholesterol levels will be assessed and a number of other risk factors measured. Each participant in the study will also complete a questionnaire covering family medical history, dietary habits, physical activity and health habits including smoking.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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