The Second Heart research project takes off

A new collaborative project will look at lowering the risk of falls in older adults by targeting blood pressure and blood flow in the brain. The research will kick off this Spring thanks to Spark program funding from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI).

When we stand, gravity pulls blood towards our feet and away from the brain. In some people, particularly older adults, this can cause dizziness or loss of balance. The Second Heart project will explore a novel technology that uses compression to help bring blood back to the heart and brain to reduce the risk of dizziness and ultimately falls.

Dr. James Milligan, a physician at the Centre for Family Medicine and Schlegel Specialist in Mobility and Aging at RIA, will lead the project. Collaborators include Richard Hughson, Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health, and Sean Peterson, Engineering Professor at University of Waterloo, who developed the technology.

“Falls are a significant concern in older adults. We suspect that many are caused by dizziness/light-headedness when standing up due to decreased blood flow to the brain,” explains Dr. Milligan. “New technology developed by the UW team of Dr. Peterson and Dr. Hughson uses individually tailored, intermittent compression to the lower legs to increase the return of blood from the legs to the heart and brain. This can reduce risk of dizziness, falls and maybe even enhance brain function. Our interdisciplinary team has a chance to test the effectiveness of this promising new technology thanks to the CABHI funding.”

Stay tuned for updates as this exciting project takes off.

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