Research into blood pressure and obesity receives welcomed boost

Research into blood pressure and obesity receives welcomed boost

Shedding light on how obesity from childhood to midlife is linked to later life risks of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and using exercise to improve the identification of abnormal blood pressure, is the focus of two of the University’s researchers who have received Heart Foundation Fellowship Funding.

The fellowships support Dr Jing Tian and Dr Martin Schultz at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, who are among 67 awards announced recently by the Heart Foundation.

Dr Schultz received close to $540,000 as part of a Future Leader Fellowship to look more closely at the benefits of using exercise to highlight blood pressure inconsistencies, which often go undetected in traditional assessments.

“An abnormal blood pressure response to a clinical exercise test is a signal of high blood pressure that has gone undetected by traditional assessments undertaken at rest,” Dr Schultz said.

“Despite this, the clinical value of exercise BP is not being fully realised. My research program aims to change this and improve the detection and management of high blood pressure.”

Dr Schultz said the funding was a great support to continue this important research.

“The generous fellowship funding provides me with the opportunity to continue my research aimed at improving the detection and management of high blood pressure; one of Tasmania’s (and the world’s) biggest health problems and primary risk factor for heart attack and stroke.”

“The outcomes of these studies will ultimately lead to improved patient care and reduce the significant health and economic burden of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in Australia.”

Dr Tian received close to $152,000 in funding as part of a Postdoctoral Fellowship to research the predictors and cardiometabolic risks associated with different obesity trajectories over the life course from childhood.

The research will use long-term population data to look closely at how obesity tracks from childhood to midlife, the importance of this to future heart and blood vessel disease risks, and the predisposing factors to these trajectories.

“Overweight and obesity are major contributors to cardiometabolic disease – the leading cause of illness and death in Australia and around the world, and their prevalence is high in Australia,” Dr Tian said.

“Understanding these trajectories and disease outcomes is important for identifying intervention opportunities where people on a high-risk weight trajectory could be diverted to a healthier path.,.”

Both fellowships start in 2020.