The Beat Goes On: imaging brain artery stiffness and the damage caused by poor buffering of pulsatile blood flow

Year of award: 2021


  • Dr Kevin Murphy

    Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Project summary

The heart keeps pounding a rhythm to the brain. Fortunately, the brain's blood vessels are elastic, providing protection by soaking up energy; a process called buffering. This research will develop ways to measure how, over a lifetime, the force of the heartbeat damages the vessels, causes stiffening and reduces buffering, leading to neurological problems. Using specialised MRI techniques, I will develop ways to image the brain's blood vessels, large and small, to measure their stiffness. I will characterise healthy buffering across the lifespan and how it is compromised by high blood pressure. I will investigate simple interventions that could reduce brain vessel stiffening, such as blood pressure medication and nitrate. Success could help to improve quality of life for future generations in their later years by providing tools to address one of the biggest health problems we face in ageing populations: deterioration of brain function caused by blood flow issues.