Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the UK, and high blood pressure (BP) is the most important treatable factor that increases a person’s risk of having a stroke.
Stiffness of the blood vessels supplying the brain (arterial stiffness) might be due to long-standing raised BP and is likely to be a factor that increases stroke risk. Arterial stiffness results in abnormalities in blood flow through these vessels as blood pulses through faster.
However, we don’t know enough about why arterial stiffness and high BP increases the risk of stroke. It’s important that research can better understand this in order to improve diagnosis and treatment of high BP to prevent stroke.
What will this research do?
This research is focused on assessing the relationship between the pulsatility of the blood flow through the blood vessels supplying the brain, BP and the risk of stroke in stroke survivors, or people that have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA, sometimes called mini-stroke).
How will Iain do the research?
Iain will use information collected in the Oxford Vascular Study (OXVASC) to investigate the relationship between pulsality, BP and risk of stroke. The OXVASC study includes stroke survivors and people that have had a TIA from hospitals in Oxfordshire. The study participants undergo multiple investigations including an ultrasound assessment of the pulsatility of the blood flow to the brain. They are provided with a home BP monitor that sends results to the OXVASC research unit so researchers can collect detailed measurements of BP, and follow up with participants at regular intervals to assess their health, including if they have another stroke.
Iain’s studies have furthered our understanding of the association of pulsatility of blood flow and BP with the risk of stroke. This includes understanding how to test new ways to measure BP and investigate new treatments to reduce BP that could improve stroke prevention.
This award also allowed Iain to work on the set-up of a study into the management of BP after a stroke caused by a bleed in the brain where there were no dedicated trials. The results of this study could change the treatment these stroke survivors have to manage their risk of another stroke.
Iain continues to share his findings in scientific journal publications, and presentations and posters at international conferences which can ensure that researchers can build on his findings to improve stroke prevention.
Iain said: “I’m grateful to the funders of my award, the Stroke Association, Association of British Neurologists and Sobell Foundations as without these funds I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my vital research into the connection between blood pressure and stroke risk. I hope that this research, and my work in the future will underpin improvements in stroke prevention, so that more people can avoid the devastating impacts of stroke.”