Dr. Richard Hughson

BSc (University of Western Ontario), MSc (University of British Columbia), PhD (McMaster University)
Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health
Senior Director of Research, RIA
Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo


bio_HughsonAs we age, our arteries get stiffer and blood flow to the brain is reduced but we do not know if there are specific mechanisms linking these observations. There are large differences between people in the rate at which vascular aging occurs and its consequences. Exactly how our genetic makeup interacts with important lifestyle factors such as regular exercise and appropriate nutrition needs to be investigated. The Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health will be dedicated to examining the role of healthy lifestyle interventions of exercise and nutrition so that more people can reach older age in good physical condition with their full cognitive capabilities.

Dr. Hughson’s research is investigating the links between cardiovascular aging and changes in brain blood flow. Evidence is showing that important lifestyle factors such as regular exercise and appropriate nutrition can help to keep blood vessels from stiffening. What is not known yet is how effectively this will assist in maintaining higher brain blood flow with aging. Another problem under investigation is the dizziness that can occur because brain blood flow decreases in many older people when they get up from lying bed or sitting in a chair. It might be unexpected but these down to Earth problems of aging have parallels in astronauts on the International Space Station and Dr. Hughson is using what he learns from studying astronauts to help with the aging research and to inspire seniors to exercise.

Key Publications

Book J, Prince CN, Villar R, Hughson RL, Peterson SD. Investigating the impact of passive external lower limb compression on central and peripheral hemodynamics during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 116: 717-727, 2016

Hughson RL, Robertson AD, Arbeille P, Shoemaker JK, Rush JWE, Fraser KS, Greaves DK. Increased post-flight carotid artery stiffness and inflight insulin resistance resulting from six-months spaceflight in male and female astronauts. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 310: H628-H638, 2016.

Fraser KS, Heckman GA, McKelvie RS, Harkness K, Middleton LA, Hughson RL. Cerebral hypoperfusion is exaggerated with an upright posture in heart failure. JACC Heart Fail 3: 168-175, 2015. PMID: 25543970

Robertson AD, Edgell H, Hughson RL. Assessing cerebrovascular autoregulation from critical closing pressure and resistance area product during upright posture in aging and hypertension. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 307: H124-H133, 2014. PMID: 24858843

Villar R, Hughson RL. Lower limb vascular conductance and resting popliteal blood flow during head-up and head-down postural challenges. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2013;33(3):186-91.

Villar R, Hughson RL. Repeatability of popliteal blood flow and lower limb vascular conductance at rest and exercise during body tilt using Doppler ultrasound. Physiol Meas. 2013;34(3):291-306.

Xu D, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Arbeille P, Fraser K, Hughson RL. Reduced heart rate variability during sleep in long-duration spaceflight. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013;305(2):R164-70.

Aletti F, Ferrario M, Xu D, Greaves DK, Shoemaker JK, Arbeille P, Baselli G, Hughson RL. Short term variability of blood pressure: effects of lower body negative pressure and long duration bed rest. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012;303:R77-R85.

Arbeille P, Shoemaker JK, Kerbeci P, Schneider S, Hargens A, Hughson RL. Aortic, cerebral, and lower limb arterial and venous response to orthostatic stress after a 60 day bedrest. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012;112:277-284.

Edgell H, Robertson AD, Hughson RL. Hemodynamics and brain blood flow during posture change in younger women and post-menopausal women compared to age-matched men. J Appl Physiol. 2012;112:1482-1493.

Fraser KS, Greaves DK, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Hughson RL. Heart rate and daily physical activity with long-duration habitation of the International Space Station. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2012;83:577-584.

Hughson RL, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Arbeille P, Greaves DK, Pereira-Junior PP, Xu D. Cardiovascular regulation during long-duration spaceflights to the International Space Station. J Appl Physiol. 2012;112: 719-727.

Zuj KA, Arbeille P, Shoemaker JK, Blaber AP, Greaves DK, Xu D, Hughson RL. Impaired cerebrovascular autoregulation and reduced CO2 reactivity after long-duration spaceflight. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012;302: H2592-H2598.

Zuj KA, Shoemaker JK, Custaud MA, Arbeille P, Hughson RL. WISE 2005: Responses of women to sublingual nitroglycerin before and after 56 days 6° head down bed rest. J Appl Physiol. 2012;113(3):434-41.

Robertson AD, Tessmer CF, Hughson RL. Association between arterial stiffness and cerebrovascular resistance in the elderly. J Human Hypert. 24:19-196, 2010.

Contact Information

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Burt Matthews Hall, Room 3116
University of Waterloo
200 University Ave. West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1

Email: hughson@uwaterloo.ca
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext. 32516