The association of physical activity with changes in brain volume and carotid artery stiffness in patients at risk for stroke
Approved Research ID: 91159
Approval date: August 9th 2022
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. While roughly 80% of strokes are the result of blockage in carotid or vertebral arteries cutting off blood flow to the brain, up to 40% of such cases are of cryptogenic (unknown) origin. Thus, the need to better understand causes contributing to stroke is critical to identifying at-risk patients and improving stroke care. This application addresses the gap in our understanding of the role of physical activity in modulating brain volume and carotid artery stiffness for patients at risk of stroke. Based on previous research, the scientific premise of our study is that specific stroke risk factors - white matter hyperintensities (WMH) volume and carotid artery stiffness - can be modified via physical activity. Our central hypothesis is that, in at-risk patients, moderate and high levels of physical activity are associated with reduced WMH volume and carotid artery stiffness compared to patients who engage in a low level of physical activity; our study will investigate differences in brain volume and carotid artery stiffness between these two groups. The findings of our study will be clinically applied to identify patients who would benefit from physical activity monitoring as a preventative intervention.
Our study will consider the emerging risk factor of depression, which can be modified by physical activity. In patients at risk of stroke, we expect that moderate and high levels of physical activity will be associated with less severe and/or frequent depressed mood.