Cardiovascular Physiology

Leads: Dr Rachel Lord, Dr Chris Pugh.

Lead: Dr Rachel Lord
Lead: Dr Rachel Lord

This area of expertise has two principal foci, including research that develops and examines novel exercise interventions in the prevention and treatment of non-communicable disease; and research that explores habitual physical activity on cardiovascular health across the life-span.

In novel exercise interventions design, we explore strategies that will optimise exercise prescription and promote individually-tailored exercise programmes to elicit maximal cardiovascular benefit. We are particularly interested in examining the respective benefits of moderate and high intensity exercise training in a variety of vulnerable groups (e.g. cardiac rehab, polycystic ovarian syndrome), as well as exploring the independent and combined effects of exercise training and pharmaceutical therapy (e.g. statins, antihypertensives). Habitual physical activity on cardiovascular health across the life-span including the concept of healthy aging and the role of physical activity on paediatric cardiovascular health across the stages of maturation.

The aim of this area of CAWRs research is to understand techniques and mechanisms that could be scaled up to support allied health practitioners and their related organisations such as Health Boards and Commissioning groups, with insight into the effective use of physical activity for public health improvement.

Example projects include:

The Independent and Combined Effects of Exercise Training and Statin Therapy in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

Regular exercise and statin therapy are widely recommended to reduce Coronary Vascular Disease (CVD) risk. When prescribed after a heart attack or stroke, both exercise and statins reduce the risk of a CVD-related death by ~25%. However, far less is known about the relative effects of exercise and statin therapy in primary CVD prevention (i.e. before a CVD-event). Poor blood vessel function represents the earliest stage of CVD, which can be measured with ultrasound to sensitively detect early CVD-risk. Regular exercise provides a variety of cardiovascular benefits and has a direct therapeutic effect on blood vessel function. In contrast, statin therapy primarily reduces CVD-risk by lowering cholesterol, which may also improve blood vessel function. However, the independent effects of exercise training and statin therapy on blood vessel function have never been directly compared in the setting of primary prevention, and it’s currently unknown whether a combination of both interventions offers additional cardiovascular benefit. The aim of this Health and Care Research Wales funded project is to conduct a randomised controlled trial of the independent and combined effects of exercise training and statin therapy on peripheral and cerebral blood vessel function in individuals at risk of CVD.

Cardiff Metropolitan University contacts: Dr Chris Pugh, Dr Eric Stohr, Dr Barry McDonnell.

Effects of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity steady-state training on mental health, cognitive and cardiometabolic outcomes in young women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition affecting young women, and is characterised by irregular periods, excessive hair growth (hirsutism) and difficulty in getting pregnant. Patients are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and several mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Lifestyle modification, including exercise, is an important part of management, but the best way in which this can be achieved is unclear. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which alternates short bursts of intense exercise with recovery periods, has recently emerged as a time-efficient way to improve cardiovascular fitness in the general population. Compared with moderate-intensity steady state (MISS) training, HIIT may improve exercise adherence, mental well-being, cognitive performance and physical health in women with PCOS. This Waterloo Foundation funded project aims to compare HIIT with MISS or usual care, in a randomised, controlled trial.

Cardiff Metropolitan University contacts: Dr Rachel Lord & Professor Philip James.

Cardiovascular physiology -