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Journal publishes study by UBCO human kinetics student

Chris Willie, a human kinetics PhD student at UBC Okanagan, is the principal author of a new study soon to appear in one of the world’s top clinical journals, Hypertension.

The study will be available online March 21.

Titled Neuromechanical, the study features  the cardiac baroreflex following exercise, and provides new insights into the mechanisms that control blood pressure before and following exercise in healthy people.

“The purpose of my study was to understand why, after exercise, blood pressure is decreased— it’s a relatively unexplored area,” said Willie.

His research focuses on better understanding the integrated mechanisms regulating human cerebral blood flow in health and disease.

“In the most basic definition, my research examines the relationship between blood pressure control and blood flow in the brain.”

Using state-of-the-art ultrasound technology to assess the characteristics of the carotid artery before and after exercise, Willie, along with colleagues from Harvard Medical School in Boston and Otago Medical School in New Zealand, analyzed 10 healthy individuals over three months.

“We were able to identify neural mechanisms that show the human brain actively decreases blood pressure regulation after exercise,” said Willie.

“What this does is provide evidence that exercise can be used as an effective tool to help decrease high blood pressure.

“It also allows clinicians and scientists who study pharmaceutical treatment of blood pressure to better understand how this physiology, as well as exercise can be utilized to enhance treatment.”

Willie added that a significant number of Canadians die from, or live with, diseases that are directly or indirectly caused by improper blood pressure regulation, ranging from heart failure to stroke.

“It is essential to better understand these processes so improved prevention options and treatments can be developed,” said Willie.

“Hypertension is the number one clinical blood pressure journal in the world” said Phil Ainslie, associate professor of human kinetics at UBCO and Willie’s PhD supervisor.

“To publish in it is a really impressive feat in anyone’s career.”

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