Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Visiting health sciences researcher at JCU studies what gets the heart going

How a single bout of exercise affects cardiovascular function is being examined by a visiting researcher at James Cook University in Townsville.

Hayleigh Raiff, a student from the University of Dayton in Ohio in the United States, is researching the acute effects of exercise on cardiovascular function.

Learn more about Health Sciences programs at JCU
Learn more about Health Sciences programs at JCU

Ms Raiff is working with staff from JCU’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science (ISES) and Vascular Biology Unit, and members of the National Health and Medical Research Council-funded National Centre for Research Excellence to improve the management of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

The study, The acute effects of aerobic and resistance exercise on cardiovascular function and arterial stiffness, is a pilot study that aims to guide future research into improving the exercise prescription of patients with a type of PAD – abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“The goal of the research is to study the effect of a single exercise bout on vascular function,” Ms Raiff said.

“While the cumulative effects of aerobic and resistance training have been shown in previous studies, this study hopes to examine the changes observed after a single session and identification of the mechanism for these changes over time.”

Ms Raiff said the research was being conducted in the ISES Exercise Testing and Prescription Laboratory at JCU under the supervision of Associate Professor Anthony Leicht from JCU’s ISES.

“The research involves having participants complete three sessions with each consisting of twenty minutes of rest, thirty minutes of exercise, and  sixty minutes of recovery,” she said.

The Ohio-based researcher added that the three exercise sessions involve aerobic, resistance and no exercise with the three sessions undertaken in a randomized order with at least 48 hours separating each session. “Before each exercise, measures of vascular function including arterial stiffness, central aortic pressure and peripheral blood pressure are taken with blood samples also collected for analysis of biomarkers of vascular function.”

During each of the exercise sessions, heart rate, blood pressure and rating of effort are recorded every 1–5 minutes.

Following exercise, another blood sample is taken in order to examine the biomarker change during the exercise and measure of arterial stiffness, central aortic pressure and peripheral blood pressure are recorded at regular intervals.

Ms Raiff said her journey to JCU had been unconventional.

“While most students work with a study abroad department, I was fortunate enough to be put directly in contact with Associate Professor Anthony Leicht of JCU’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science,” she said.

“During the summer of 2012, I contacted my advisor at the University of Dayton to express my interest in spending the next summer in Australia because of my interest in physiotherapy. I was also hoping to get some clinical experience and hoped he would be able to give me some guidance and inform me of some opportunities.”

In a coincidence, her supervisor informed her Associate Professor Leicht had just stopped by his office at the University of Dayton the previous week and encouraged her to contact him about the experience she was looking for.

Ms Raiff said she would use the findings of the study to compose her honours thesis as a part of her Honours with Distinction curriculum at the University of Dayton.

“I am excited to take all that I have learned here at JCU back with me to UD and hopefully contribute to my department’s understanding of vascular physiology.”

Sport and Exercise Science/Exercise Physiology (Clinical)

Sport & Exercise Science Do you want to
  • make a useful contribution to the community?
  • further your interest and abilities in sport and exercise science?
  • help people to improve their life opportunities and sense of physical well-being?
  • work with people?
  • work with a wide range of age groups with varying physical exercise and sport abilities?
  • work with community based and/or professional sporting persons/clubs/teams?
Exercise Physiology (Clinical) Do you want to
  • make a useful contribution to the community?
  • help people to improve their life opportunities and sense of physical well-being?
  • work with people?
  • work with a wide range of age groups with varying occupational, exercise and physical abilities?
  • work with other allied health professionals
  • work with people to manage chronic diseases/conditions and injury rehabilitation

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