Kinesiology Researchers Begin New Study on Hypertension in African American Women

Monday, May 03, 2021

Dr. Matthew Brothers, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Exercise Science in the Department of KinesiologyThe Integrative Vascular Physiology Laboratory at The University of Texas at Arlington has recently received research grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research into the neural and vascular mechanisms of elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk in African American women. The lab is housed in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and is led by Dr. Matthew Brothers, associate professor and associate chair for graduate programs in exercise science in the Department of Kinesiology.

“Our research will be exploring what may contribute to hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, and we are specifically focusing on African American women, because the lack of research on this population is alarming. We know that the African American population has the highest rates this disease, but the majority of research out there focuses only on men; however, African American women have just as high rates of hypertension and equally high cardiovascular disease risk. It is important that we fill this gap in our understanding,” shared Brothers.

The project, which was officially funded on March 1, is currently in the recruitment phase for research participants. The research team will be studying how alterations to blood pressure, using antioxidants and other interventions, affect blood pressure regulation and blood vessel ability to dilate or relax. Brothers, the principal investigator, is joined on the research team by Dr. Paul Fadel, associate dean for research, and Dr. David Keller, associate dean and chair for the Department of Kinesiology.

“Ultimately, we are trying to better the understanding of cardiovascular disease, and in this case, the risk factors that we know contribute to hypertension. If we can learn more about the scientific reasons that blood vessel health may be impaired, interventions can hopefully be developed to increase cardiovascular health,” said Brothers.

Brothers also said they understand the need for further interdisciplinary research on this population as well. “We are not naïve to think the problem is only about what is going on in the blood vessels. We recognize there may be a host of factors, like social determinants, environment, socioeconomic factors, and many others. We are focusing on our area of expertise, but already have plans to partner with colleagues to explore these factors further,” said Brothers.

The primary focus of the Integrative Vascular Physiology Laboratory is in the investigation of mechanisms of impaired autonomic and vascular function in selected at-risk/diseased populations. This research bears implications for various physiologic conditions including thermoregulatory capacity, orthostatic tolerance, and risk for cardiovascular, neurological, and metabolic diseases.