Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

Hello. My name is Christie Ballantyne. I'm a cardiologist and Chief of the Section of Atherosclerosis and Vascular Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

I'm also the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention which is a joint program between Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center.

Our main goal is to prevent pain, suffering, and death from heart attack, stroke, and vascular disease. Through our many research initiatives, we're looking for better ways of treating those who suffer from atherosclerosis and preventing cardiovascular events in those who are at risk.

One area of focus is treatment of lipid disorders. We have new studies examining whether raising HDL cholesterol or lowering triglycerides along with statin therapy will slow progression or cause regression of atherosclerosis and prevent heart attack and stroke. To monitor the results, we are using new, non-invasive, state-of-the-art imaging methods.

A second exciting area of research is to understand the genes that control the levels of HDL and triglycerides. As part of the ARIC study and working with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, we are taking part in what's being called the CARE study and a Genome Wide Association study to understand the genes that contribute to heart, lung and blood disorders.

Our researchers are looking at how a genetic risk score can be used to better identify which individuals would benefit from preventative therapy before illness sets in as part of Baylor College of Medicine's new initiative of personalized medicine.

We all know that obesity is a factor in cardiovascular health, so another area of research is looking at weight loss through lifestyle changes as a way to treat atherosclerosis and prevent cardiovascular events. We're also studying the effects of weight loss on biomarkers related to thrombosis and inflammation, both of which are shown to be related to cardiovascular health.

Our funding comes from grants and subcontracts from federal and private sources with numerous grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Click here for more information on heart disease research at Baylor College of Medicine.