University’s groundbreaking research

University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) staff, students and partners are kick-starting groundbreaking research and developing solutions to improve the health of people with heart, lung and circulation diseases.

Global company Renew Health is funding a project led by John Buckley, professor of applied exercise science at UCS. The investment is part of Renew’s Global Billions in Change movement, which is tackling pressing worldwide problems in the areas of water purification, accessible energy and preventative healthcare.

The initiative is investigating the benefits of External Counter Pulsation (ECP) therapy, a treatment proven to improve people’s cardiovascular health. This includes people with heart disease who have not been able to have bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty (stents). The treatment involves inflatable cuffs wrapped around calves, thighs and hips, along with sensors to detect the heartbeat. The inflation of the cuffs compresses blood from the lower legs back to the heart, improving blood flow in the heart and throughout the cardiovascular system.

Prof Buckley said, “The device enhances the pumping of blood around the body – it’s like having a second heart, working between beats when the heart is at rest.

“If this ‘whole-body’ treatment system can do good things to the blood vessels of the heart, why should it not do the same for blood vessels in other key areas of the body such as the kidneys, lungs, blockages in the legs from diabetes or in the brain for people with vascular dementia?

“So far we’ve had some very encouraging results of improving acute lung efficiency in healthy people and we’re ready to see how this could help people with breathing problems such as asthma or emphysema.

“We’ll then aim to develop local treatment services, particularly with older people, from which the data could contribute to global scientific recognition. All of this fits with UCS’s vision to support Shropshire’s future rural, social, health and economic challenges.”

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