UTA Nursing Professor receives $308,000 NIH grant

Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 • Media Contact : Lekan Oguntoyinbo

Dr. Mark Haykowsky
Dr. Mark Haykowsky

A cardiovascular exercise scientist at the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation has received a $308,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study exercise intolerance in older heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF. 

Mark Haykowsky, a professor of nursing and the college’s Moritz Chair of Gerontological Nursing Research, and a team of researchers from the college will study the mechanisms and management of exercise intolerance and its improvement with endurance exercise training in older HFpEF patients. 

Preserved ejection fraction is the fastest growing type of heart failure and is found mostly in older individuals. The mortality rate for these patients is high and the cardinal feature among them is impaired exercise tolerance. While evidence based drug therapies improve survival in heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction, they do not improve survival in HFpEF patients, Haykowsky said.

“We are looking at peripheral non-cardiac factors that affect exercise tolerance and their improvement with exercise training,” he said. “In HFpEF patients, we believe that the muscle sympathetic activity is over active. We will also be measuring HFpEF patients’ cardiorespiratory fitness, aerobic endurance, functional performance and quality of life.”

Haykowsky will work with several leading heart disease researchers from the college on this study, including Paul Fadel, a professor, neural cardio-vascular control expert and the college’s associate dean for research; Michael Nelson, an assistant professor of kinesiology, who is studying a frequently misdiagnosed heart condition in women; and Kathryn Daniel and Daisha Cipher, both associate professors in the college. 

They will study HFpEF patients and healthy controls who are 60 and older. The HFpEF patients will then be randomly assigned to two exercise training groups. One group will meet at UTA for exercise sessions three days a week for 16 weeks. The second group will be a control group. Researchers will strive to improve the muscle sympathetic nerve activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, aerobic endurance and functional performance and quality of life.   

“This grant is a huge win for our research faculty, for the college and for the University of Texas at Arlington,” said Anne Bavier, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. “The study conducted by Professor Haykowsky and his team of seasoned researchers will make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on heart disease and help us get to the bottom of some heart ailments that continue to elude us.”


About the UTA College of Nursing and Health Innovation

UTA’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation is a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence and encompasses one of the nation’s largest and most successful nursing schools and a renowned kinesiology program offering degrees in exercise science, kinesiology, athletic training and an undergraduate track in public health. The College is the largest producer of registered nurses in Texas and a leader in the use of online platforms and simulation technology to help more students achieve nursing degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Master of Science in Nursing program and the online Master of Science in Nursing degree among the best in the country. The College’s highly regarded faculty is dedicated to advancing health and the human condition and investigates a wide range of topics in basic science, human performance and clinical conditions.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000 in AY 2016-17, UTA is the largest institution in The University of Texas System. Guided by its Strategic Plan Bold Solutions | Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report also ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2017 Best for Vets list.