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Arnold School of Public Health

American Heart Association elects Abbi Lane-Cordova as Fellow

September 25, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Abbi Lane-Cordova, an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Heart Association, conferred by the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health. The Fellowship recognizes outstanding professional members for excellence, innovation and sustained contributions in the areas of scholarship, practice/education and volunteer service.

Lane-Cordova’s research focuses on pregnancy complications and long-term heart disease risk. Specifically, she works to understand how and why women who have experienced certain pregnancy complications (e.g., high blood pressure) have higher long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Women who develop adverse pregnancy outcomes are nearly four times more likely to develop high blood pressure in the 10-14 years following delivery and face higher risk of early heart disease,” Lane-Cordova says. “This is the case even for women who were previously healthy and for those whose blood pressure returns to normal levels after delivery.”  

She became interested in this area of research during her doctoral program at the University of Illinois. Lane-Cordova was already interested in heart disease due to the chronic condition’s ubiquitous presence in her own family. She had studied exercise physiology for her bachelor’s degree and then human performance during her master’s program at the University of Florida. After four years gaining experience in the field, Lane-Cordova returned to school to earn a Ph.D.

When her pregnant sister began asking her about exercise and blood pressure during pregnancy, Lane-Cordova was intrigued. She has been investigating the lasting effects of pregnancy on blood pressure and vascular function ever since.

Lane-Cordova has spent the last several years examining these connections, first through a project being conducted in the Translational Vascular Physiology Lab during her National Institutes of Health T-32 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Health and Human Physiology at the University of Iowa and then during an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University. She joined the Arnold School in 2017 to continue this work.

Much of Lane-Cordova’s research is conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health-funded CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) Study – a multi-center, longitudinal project working to identify risk factors from young adulthood through late middle age that often translate into cardiovascular disease later in life. Some of her projects include a study on whether cardiovascular fitness may serve as a predictor for adverse pregnancy outcomes, research on the connection between adverse pregnancy outcomes and long-term cardiovascular disease risk, and an investigation into the link between adverse pregnancy outcomes and menopausal vasomotor symptoms to higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association Fellowship recognizes Lane-Cordova’s immense contributions to the field. It is a particularly impressive achievement for someone in the early-career stage.

“Abbi studies the important intersection between women’s reproductive health and long-term cardiovascular disease outcomes,” says Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University and Lane-Cordova’s supervisor during her second postdoctoral fellowship. “Her background and training in exercise science is critical in this setting because it highlights a potentially modifiable behavior to mitigate some of the adverse consequences of adverse pregnancy outcomes on cardiovascular health.”

Thus far, Lane-Cordova’s contributions include 51 peer-reviewed publications, 34 of which are in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and obesity. She has also volunteered for the American Heart Association in various capacities. Lane-Cordova is currently a member of the national Lifestyle Physical Activity Committee and serves as an abstract reviewer for the organization’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions. At the local level, Lane-Cordova leads the Arnold School’s Midlands Heart Walk team as team captain and educates community groups (e.g., Midlands Circle of Red) about local research activities and the challenges/discoveries related to heart disease in women. 


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