A healthy cardiovascular system lies at the core of quality of life in the aging population. Healthy aging could mean stiffening in the large arteries, causing an increase in blood pressure that could potentially damage the delicate blood vessels in the brain. An unhealthy lifestyle, including physical inactivity, accelerates vascular aging with risk to the functioning of the heart and brain.
Since the lifestyle of an astronaut results in increased carotid artery stiffness equivalent to changes seen with aging about 20 years, astronauts have become unlikely models for studying accelerated “aging-like” changes in the cardiovascular system.
Professor Hughson is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and the Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health.