Research projects in the Kansas Neural Cardiovascular Control Laboratory focus on the heart and blood vessels and the nervous system that influences the heart and blood vessels. Projects utilize state-of-the art physiological research tools to answer clinically relevant questions, such as processes that contribute to the development of hypertension, chronic pain, and vascular disease. The Kansas Neural Cardiovascular Control Laboratory employs a clinical and translational approach to research and involves collaborations with numerous basic scientists and physicians.
Chronic pain is the greatest contributor to disability worldwide and is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality across a spectrum of chronic pain conditions including low back pain, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia. These states of chronic pain share high prevalence of hypertension and impaired autonomic function, which contribute to significantly elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Although there is growing recognition of the vital interactions between pain and cardiovascular regulatory systems, clinical treatment for chronic pain typically does not consider cardiovascular function or hypertension. Targeting the cardiovascular system is an innovative therapeutic strategy for successful management of both chronic pain and hypertension and reducing CVD risk and mortality in this patient population.
Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in the United States. The most prevalent cardiovascular disease risk factors are hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Neural Cardiovascular Control Laboratory performs studies that examine the question of why hypertension and diabetes often develop together by using high fidelity measurements of sympathetic neural activity (microneurography) and vascular function in adults across the continuum of impaired glucose control. The primary aim is to develop effective interventions to prevent or attenuate hypertension and disease of the large and small blood vessels.