USC researchers relish Heart Week theme | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC researchers relish Heart Week theme

Researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast are hoping this year’s National Heart Week starting Sunday 29 April will encourage people to step up their physical activity and get behind some local cardiovascular health studies.

Heart Week, coordinated by the Heart Foundation and supported by Sunshine Coast Council, will focus on the importance of physical activity in reducing the prevalence and impact of risk factors for heart disease.

This theme aligns perfectly with the work of USC’s VasoActive research team that is currently seeking participants – both healthy and those with cardiovascular disease – for numerous studies relating to heart and cardiovascular health.

The group requires volunteers aged 55 and over, or of any age if they have cardiovascular disease, for its research into:

  • Assessing the benefits of exercise for people who have peripheral arterial disease of the legs
  • Understanding the effect of heart and vascular diseases on brain health, cognitive function and the risk of dementia
  • Determining why diabetes might increase the risk of cardiovascular events
  • Assessing the effect of dietary supplements, like beetroot juice and omega 3 fish oils, on cardiovascular function in older adults.

VasoActive group leader Associate Professor Chris Askew said his team members were interested in how physical activity could impact on a wide range of diseases.

“We know that exercise is beneficial, so we’re trying to understand how exercise works, and new ways to get more people to be active,” Dr Askew said. “Our research is considering a wide range of cardiovascular conditions and the effect of various lifestyle interventions, including the use of exercise and dietary supplements.”

Dr Askew said participants would have an opportunity to learn more about cardiovascular health and their risk of cardiovascular disease, and contribute to the development of new treatments. Some studies also include free supervised exercise programs.

“In some cases participants will also receive dietary supplements, like beetroot juice or omega 3 fish oils, to assess if they improve vascular function and also to see if they provide cognitive benefits,” he said.

He said participants in a typical project would only be required to make 1-2 visits to a laboratory at either USC’s main campus at Sippy Downs or at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Birtinya.

People interested in taking part in the USC research projects can register here.

VasoActive team members and USC Nursing Science students will conduct free health checks for participants at a council-organised walk, starting at the Stockland Oceanside carpark on Lake Kawana Boulevard at 9am on Sunday.

- Terry Walsh

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