Geospatial Analysis of Neighborhood Environmental Stress in Relation to Biological Markers of Cardiovascular Health and Health Behaviors in Women

  • End date
    Dec 26, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Updated on 4 October 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers



Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. Healthy diet and exercise improve heart health. Some features of where a person lives can lead to stress and decrease chances for exercise. Researchers want to see how these factors may increase the risk of heart disease in women.


To see if there are differences in stress levels between women who live in different parts of Washington, DC. Also, to see how these women use their neighborhoods for exercise.


Healthy white or black females ages 19-45 who live in Washington, DC, wards 3 or 5 and have access to a smartphone


Participants will stay at the NIH Clinical Center overnight for a 2-day visit. Tests will


Physical exam

Blood tests

Electrocardiogram: Electrodes on the participant s skin will measure heart activity.

PET/CT scan: Participants will get an injection. They will lie in a machine that takes pictures of the body.


Body size measurements

Blood vessel tests: This is measured with blood pressure cuffs, a device placed on the participant s fingertip, and a probe placed on the participant s neck.

Resting Energy Expenditure: Participants will breathe under a clear hood for 45 minutes.

Participants will be followed for about 2 weeks. They will wear a device on the wrist and carry a GPS device. Through a mobile app, they will answer short daily surveys on stress and exercise.

Participants will then have a follow-up visit. They will have blood tests and take surveys.


Innovative analyses of cardiovascular (CV) risk markers and heath behaviors in relation to neighborhood stressors are needed to further elucidate mechanisms by which adverse neighborhood conditions lead to poor CV outcomes. We propose to objectively measure physical activity, sedentary behavior, and neighborhood stress through accelerometers, global positioning systems (GPS), and ecological momentary assessment survey (via smartphone survey), linked to biological measures in a sample of White and African American women in Washington, D.C. neighborhoods. We hypothesize that individuals who are living in worse neighborhood environment conditions (e.g., higher poverty, crime, and social disorder) will be associated with higher chronic stress-related neural activity. As a secondary hypothesis, we hypothesize that associations between living in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhood conditions and adverse biological markers will be moderated/mediated through levels of physical activity, time spent on sedentary activities, and dietary intake. Relationships between living in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhood conditions and adverse biological markers will be also be mediated through psychosocial factors. In Aim 1, we will test associations between neighborhood environment conditions (e.g., poverty, crime, social disorder) and differences in stress-related neural activity, using PET CT-measured amygdala FDG uptake among a sample of White and African American women in higher socio-economic status neighborhoods and low socioeconomic neighborhoods in Washington D.C. In Aim 2a, we will determine associations between neighborhood environment conditions (e.g., poverty, crime, social disorder) and differences in cardiovascular risk and immune activation. Several measures of cardiovascular risk and immune activation will be performed including: (i) assessment of vascular function (vascular stiffness, vascular inflammation) and (ii) measures of immune function (i.e. flow cytometry for immune cell phenotyping, cytokine/chemokine/cortisol/neurotransmitter profiling, lipidomic analyses for lipid inflammatory intermediates, PBMC telomere length). In Aim 2b, we will assess feasibility and practicality of the use of geospatial tools and methods for measuring environmental factors (i.e. poverty, crime, social disorder) among this sample of women in Washington, DC. In aim 2c, we will examine whether associations between worse neighborhood environment conditions and adverse biological markers may be moderated and/or mediated by health behaviors (i.e., physical activity, sedentary time, dietary intake) and psychosocial factors (i.e., mood) measured via ecological momentary assessment (EMA). This project has a strong potential for improving scientific understanding of how neighborhood stress may influence biological measures of stress-related neural activity, such as amygdala activity, to improve our knowledge on interrelations among biology, environment, and cardiovascular health.

Condition Cardiovascular (CV) Risk
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04014348
SponsorNational Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Individuals eligible for this protocol
A healthy white female or healthy black female of African descent
Must be between 19 to 45 years of age
Must not have any chronic health condition, including lung disease or active infection
Must be living in Washington, DC
Must have access to a smartphone
Must be able to provide informed consent
Must speak English

Exclusion Criteria

If you are pregnant or breast feeding
If you are physically unable to perform physical activity for any reason
If you have had weight changes greater than 20% over the past 3 months
If you are obese by our measurements (BMI greater than or equal to 35.0 kg/m^2)
If you have high or low blood pressure
If you have diabetes
If you have a history of mental illnesses, treated with medication and therapy
If you have a history or evidence of hyper/hypothyroidism
If you are taking medication for chronic illness
If you have HIV
If you have food allergies or highly restrictive diets that may prevent your ability to consume a controlled metabolic diet
If you are a smoker
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