A doctor and student of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) recently received a prestigious award for their research into the relationship between calcium deposits in coronary arteries and high blood pressure.   

Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine Dr Mohamed B Elshazly, and Amal Abdellatif, who is in the final year of her medical degree, were presented with the Paul Dudley White International Scholar at Scientific Sessions Award for their work on arterial calcium deposits, hypertension and coronary heart disease. The award is given to the highest-ranked international abstracts at scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, with the ranking performed by independent cardiovascular researchers.

In collaboration with international researchers, the pair examined whether the presence of calcium deposits in coronary arteries are an indication that doctors should intervene with intensive hypertension treatment to prevent future heart disease, even when other high-risk factors like old age, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are not present.

Working with scientists at a number of international institutions, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health in Ireland, Amal and Dr Elshazly performed the research at WCM-Q using the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis (MESA) database. MESA is a study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that examines early atherosclerosis – a condition where the arteries narrow through a build-up of plaque.

The research was presented during a scientific session of the American Heart Association, which is the largest annual cardiovascular medicine conference in the world.

Amal Abdellatif  

Amal said that it was very fortunate for her to have an opportunity to take part in such a study with potentially significant clinical implications.

Dr Elshazly has been a wonderful mentor, guide and has gracefully introduced me to the rewarding field of clinical research. I am hoping I can extend what I gained from this experience into my future career to answer more clinical questions.’

The research involved examining the records of more than 1,800 participants with stage one hypertension who were included on the MESA database. Just over half were male and the participants had an average age of 63 years.

The research found that the presence of coronary artery calcium, particularly a score greater than 100, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with mild hypertension.

Dr Elshazly, himself an alumnus of WCM-Q, said this is the first MESA study to be performed by Qatar investigators. It is an important example of how global the process of research has become.

A study funded by the US National Institutes of Health with US patients has allowed us, as investigators from Qatar, to analyse the data and produce science that can impact worldwide blood pressure guideline development and around a billion patients with hypertension around the world.’

For updates and more information on WCM-Q visit their website at qatar-weill.cornell.edu.