About the Center

The Center for Cardiometabolic Disease Prevention expands the scope and depth of research, clinical, and educational activities related to the prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with a goal of improving cardiometabolic health and promoting healthy aging. The center includes faculty in the Division of Atherosclerosis and Vascular Medicine as well as the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism to target the interrelated risk factors of cardiometabolic disease. Christie M. Ballantyne, M.D., is the director.

Cardiometabolic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are associated with a common constellation of risk factors, including dyslipidemia, hypertension, obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. In addition, diabetes is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in individuals with diabetes. Because of their shared etiology, cardiometabolic diseases require a coordinated approach for effective prevention and treatment.

Patient care encompasses the spectrum of cardiometabolic health and disease, and researchers in the center investigate biomarkers in known and potential causal pathways of cardiometabolic disease to identify additional risk factors that may lead to development of novel therapeutic targets. The collaborative environment provides trainees with a broad range of experiences and a solid foundation in all aspects of cardiometabolic disease.

Background and Rationale

The Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention began in 2000 as a joint venture between Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center to advance the prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Despite tremendous progress in prevention and treatment, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and death rates for heart disease are increasing after decades of decline, related to increases in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. In Harris County, almost 70% of adults are overweight or obese, and more than 10% have been diagnosed with diabetes. Obesity and diabetes increase risk not only for ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease/stroke but also for heart failure. In addition, diabetes is strongly associated with hepatic steatosis, which is now the most common cause of cirrhosis. Diabetes and hypertension are also strongly related to accelerated cognitive decline and dementia.

A more comprehensive approach to the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic disease is needed to reverse these alarming trends. The dramatic increase in the clinical sequelae of cardiometabolic disease related to increases in diabetes and obesity, advances in understanding the complex interactions between diabetes and obesity and cardiovascular disease pathophysiology, and the changing clinical paradigm mandate a systematic change both in medical practice and in medical training.

In 2017, the name was changed to reflect the urgent need for broader preventive strategies to address the current and growing crisis and to improve health and healthcare locally, nationally, and internationally.