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The Hearts and Minds Study
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The Hearts and Minds Study

Dr Kate Lycett, Institution: Deakin University

2016 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Years funded: 2017-2023


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mental illness are leading causes of chronic illness and death globally. They frequently co-occur in adulthood. However, the shared developmental mechanisms underlying this relationship are poorly understood, reflecting the lifelong genesis of cardiovascular health and dysfunction, beginning long before overt disease.

My innovative post-doctoral program examines timing, duration, and strength of mental health changes across the preceding 10 years, as they relate to developing cardiovascular health in two age groups.

My aims are to quantify the extent to which, at both ages (11-12 years and mid-adulthood):
  1. Trajectories of mental health and general wellbeing spanning the preceding 10 years predict cardiovascular structure and function.
  2. Common biological mechanisms (cellular ageing and inflammation) underlie both mental health and cardiovascular risk at these intermediary stages of the life course.

I will analyse 2015 data from the nationally-representative Child Health Checkpoint, an NHMRC-funded project collecting paired physiological and biological assessments on 1,900 child-parent dyads. From linked biennial data in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, I will derive mental health changes across the life course to examine these relationships.

Demonstrating that cardiovascular and mental health share common biological pathways, at both ages, would be a major contribution to understanding mental health’s likely pathogenetic role in CV disease development, informing preventative effort.

This project is co-funded with NHMRC - National Health and Medical Research Council.

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