Old age is the major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases in men and women. This means that the risk of heart disease rises at the same time as sex steroid hormone levels fall in both sexes. Our research investigates the role of factors, including the sex steroid hormones estrogen and testosterone, in the development of cardiovascular diseases in old age.
We are also very interested in the process of cardiac aging itself, and the role that overall health plays in setting the stage for the development of heart diseases in later life. Our group has pioneered the idea that overall health can be measured by the accumulation of deficits with a "frailty index" in aging animals. This frailty index tool is a major advance that will help translate scientific discoveries into meaningful clinical interventions.
Work in the Howlett Lab is funded by current grants from CIHR and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.