CVD risk in reproductive-aged women

Evidence & Translation

Working to optimise screening and adherence to lifestyle management programs for women at high risk of later heart disease. 

We are working on ways to identify the women at high risk of pregnancy complications that could contribute to a higher risk of heart disease after pregnancy, which will to allow us to work with these women earlier in pregnancy to optimise their lifestyle. 

We work to adapt existing programs for optimising diet and physical activity, and preventing weight gain during and following pregnancy so that they reflect the needs of women.

During pregnancy, women can develop certain conditions, which can indicate that they have a higher risk of heart disease later in life. These include gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia, spontaneous pre-term birth, intrauterine growth restriction of their fetus or gaining too much weight during pregnancy. Combined, these conditions can affect a third to up to a half of all pregnant women. 

The recommended treatment for all of these conditions is lifestyle management including aiming for optimal diet and physical activity. The earlier women receive this treatment then the lower the risk of these conditions will be and the lower their risk of both a complicated pregnancy and heart disease following pregnancy. 

We engage women, multidisciplinary researchers and health professionals and stakeholders from health services, community and government in a multi-step program of research to co-design approaches and tools for the screening, recall and lifestyle management, and in the implementation and evaluation activities.

Implementation & Impact

We work to find practical solutions for targeted screening, prevention and treatment opportunities, which can be incorporated into the existing healthcare system, to reduce the risk of heart disease in women. To maximise real world community impact, we will work in partnership with Diabetes Australia to modify the existing GDM Registry and postpartum lifestyle programs.

Research Streams
  • Development, validation and evaluation of risk prediction models for gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy with clinical digital interface based on MH BOS routinely collected data.
  • Modification and co-design of antenatal lifestyle programs to increase relevance to cardiometabolic conditions during pregnancy
  • Development of implementation and evaluation plans for modified pilot lifestyle interventions for cardiometabolic conditions during pregnancy  comprising elements of digital and remote health
  • Establish a comprehensive clinical, biological and ultrasound biobank to identify phenotypes of women during pregnancy at highest cardio-metabolic risk requiring long-term follow-up. 
  • Expanding the National GDM Register to link in women with other high-risk phenotypes of cardio-metabolic complications during pregnancy
  • Expanding community-based lifestyle management programs for postpartum women to include high-risk pregnancy categories.
  • Implementation trial – evaluation of the effectiveness of the modified Registry
To deliver health impact, we use the following MCHRI platforms

Student Research Projects

This team offers a variety of Honours, Masters and PhD projects for students. There are also a number of short-term research opportunities available. You are encouraged to get in touch regarding potential projects that align with the research areas. 

An example of these projects is listed below.


We gratefully acknowledge the funding given to our group by the Heart Foundation of Australia.