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UT Tyler Professor Awarded Grant from American Heart Association

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May 29, 2015

Media Contact:  Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.565.5769 or 903.539.7196 (cell)

May 29, 2015



Dr. Benjamin Tseng has been awarded a $140,000 research grant from the American Heart Association to potentially revise stroke prevention guidelines by investigating risks in certain older adult populations, Dr. Michael Odell, vice president for research and technology transfer, announced.

With the grant, Tseng will conduct a six-month randomized controlled trial consisting of an exercise and a control group in adults aged 55-75 years with clinically diagnosed paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, or AFib. UT Tyler health and kinesiology graduate students Colby Craddock and Kasra Debeshlim, both of Tyler, will assist with the study.

“The objective of this two-year clinical intervention study is to determine if moderate aerobic training reduces stroke risk by improving arterial stiffness, brain blood flow and decreasing cardiovascular burden in AFib patients,” said Tseng, an assistant professor who directs the UT Tyler Laboratory of Brain Aging and Neuromotor Behavior. “If effectiveness of our non-pharmacological approach is confirmed, we’ll apply this method on a large-scale clinical investigation and hopefully change the stroke prevention guidelines via AHA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The UT Tyler team will assess the patients at baseline and after six months.

Their assessment will involve heart rhythm monitoring, neuroimaging methods, ultrasound as well as a cutting-edge method called applanation atonometry, where the stiffness of blood vessels is measured without skin penetration.

“Atherosclerosis – or the stiffening of arteries – is highly associated with AFib. In contrast, aerobic training has been shown to reduce arterial stiffness and improves brain blood flow in order adults,” Tseng said.

According to Tseng, AFib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat among older adults, and the disease is the leading cause of fatal ischemic stroke – where blood clots obstruct blood flow in the brain.

The current standard of care passively relies on blood thinning medication, and current therapy also fails to incorporate proactive strategies to modify underlying risk factors that contribute to ischemic stroke, Tseng added.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s leading non-profit organization in fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

For more information about the study, contact Tseng, 903.566.7042 or btseng@uttyler.edu.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler features excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 8,000 high-ability students. UT Tyler offers courses at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine as well as a location in Houston.

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