Lynda Powell, PhD, has been studying women in the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods in Chicago for several years as part of the Study of Women Across the Nation (SWAN). The SWAN study, funded by the National Institutes of Heart, Lung and Blood Diseases, is the first large-scale national study to examine the health of women in their 40s and 50s. SWAN is designed to track the health of approximately 3,200 women during the transitional years of middle age, examining the physical, psychological, and social changes that take place at mid-life.
However, it was not until Powell, who is going through menopause herself, noticed her pants were getting tighter that she realized she might have another health effect to study.
"It felt as if my pants were getting tight so I asked several women who were enrolled in the SWAN study if they too, were experiencing this and I was surprised to learn this was very common experience among menopausal women," she said. This sudden but subtle weight gain made her search previous literature to examine what, if any, association existed between fat that collects around vital organs, also known as intra abdominal fat.
"I found very little credible research that examined this," she said. So, she designed a new study using the women in SWAN to determine if the location of fat increases a woman's risk for heart disease.
This new initiative, called the Women on the Southside Health Project (WISH), draws on these same volunteers from the SWAN study to help determine coronary artery risk for post menopausal women.
This new group of women will be given annual CT and Deka Scans to determine the amount of fat that collects around the organs in the middle of the body, as well as bone
Contact: Chris Martin
Rush University Medical Center