UTA Researchers Searching for More Precise Heart Failure Treatment

Three researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington are part of an $11 million project study to make heart failure treatment more precise for patients, nearly half of whom don’t receive effective treatment. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health to look at heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, also known as HFpEF, which is when the heart pumps normally but is too stiff to fill properly.

Faculty members in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Mark Haykowsky, Michael Nelson, and Paul Fadel will be studying the process behind HFpEF patients’ difficulty, or sometimes inability, to exercise. The university is putting $3.5 million toward the total project cost, and is collaborating with UT Southwestern Medical Center.

HFpEF is the fastest-growing type of heart failure and is most prevalent among the elderly with a high mortality rate that is preceded by impaired exercise tolerance. The increase is likely because of the rise in common risk factors, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, older age, renal dysfunction, and obesity.

Haykowsky will be focusing on how oxygen is delivered, while Nelson will use imaging techniques to determine the specific cardiac, skeletal, and pulmonary issues that are causing the difficulty to exercise, and Fadel will study the role of the autonomic nervous system.

“HFpEF affects each patient differently,” Haykowsky said via press release. “In this project, we’ll phenotype patients based on their pathophysiology of exercise intolerance and empower the development of personalized strategies to improve overall health-related fitness.”

“The major strength of this new grant is that it brings together multiple investigators from UTA and UT Southwestern to tackle an important health problem,” Nelson said via press release. “HFpEF patients have reduced quality of life and lowered tolerance for the activities of daily living. We are taking a whole-body, interdisciplinary approach to work as a team and address this problem head-on.”

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