Teaching Heart-Healthy Habits to High-Risk Children and Families

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has received a $3.8 million grant from the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote cardiovascular health through early education and intervention programs targeting high-risk children and their parents in Harlem and the Bronx.

Mount Sinai researchers will study the genes and lifestyles of 600 preschoolers and their parents or guardians who live in these communities, which are associated with high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The investigators will track whether the interventions lead to healthier eating habits and additional exercise. They will also examine the participants’ DNA and RNA to understand how genetics plays a role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

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Studying a New Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

There are more than 23 million people in the United States, including 1.6 million in New York State, who have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body is resistant to the action of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to lower the blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with obesity, can result in kidney failure, limb amputations, blindness, heart disease, and stroke when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled.

“Many of these individuals who are living with type 2 diabetes and obesity are trying tirelessly to manage their diabetes and blood sugar, but without success,” says Aida Saliby, MD, of the Department of Endocrinology at Beth Israel Medical Center. “They do not respond fully to diet and lifestyle modifications, or they become resistant to the effects of oral medications, requiring additional treatments to manage their disease. Given the severe and growing diabetes epidemic, there is a substantial need to develop new, more effective therapies,” she says.

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