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Cardiology Research Unit

The Cardiology Research Unit's areas of research involve contributing to multi-centre trials, including trials of new devices for coronary angioplasty, and clinical trials of new drugs for management of heart attacks, cholesterol levels, and arrhythmia. Local research includes assessment of biomarkers as predictors of coronary stent re-stenosis after implantation. The Research Unit is also performing a prospective study in patients with aortic valve disease evaluating what genes might be important in the development of narrowed heart valves in older persons.

The Cardiology Research Unit has several PhD candidate openings. Contact the Department of Medicine Research Administrator for more information.


Current Research Projects

Type 2 Diabetes Training Study

People with diabetes have lower aerobic capacity (VO2max) than their non-diabetic counterparts.  This is caused, in part, by a reduced ability to increase the work of their heart during exercise.  These changes in heart function occur early on in the progression of diabetes, putting patients with diabetes at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart failure.  We are using cardiac ultrasound during exercise to determine whether high intensity interval training exercise can improve the function of the diabetic left ventricle and ‘normalise’ the response of the diabetic heart to vigorous exercise.

Diabetic Cardiomyocyte function

The ‘pump function’ (a.k.a. contractility) of the diabetic heart is reduced.  To understand why, we will compare the function of individual human right atrial and left ventricular cardiac cells (cardiomyocytes) from coronary bypass patients who have diabetes and those who do not.  By isolating these individual cell preparations, our study will examine the function of heart cells without the influence of the nervous system, heart rate, or pumping conditions.  Our study will specifically examine whether changes in the calcium sensitivity of the diabetic cardiomyocyte affect its ability to contract.

The effects of exercise on the function of individual cardiac cells in type 2 diabetes

We have determined that heart cells from diabetic rats generate less force, and are less responsive to adrenaline than cells from non-diabetic hearts.  This study will determine whether exercise training ‘normalizes’ the cardiac cell function of diabetic rat hearts.

For more information on research at the Cardiology Research Unit, visit the Heart Otago website
Heart Otago

Staff in the Cardiology Research Unit