Close-up image of a doctor in a lab coat holding a plastic heart in his hands

Wong awarded American Heart Association Grant

Assistant Professor Brett Wong is working with faculty members at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine on a four-year, $308,000 American Heart Association grant to study a new treatment for peripheral artery disease.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when “plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs,” according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The grant project focuses specifically on treating calf muscle pain from insufficient blood flow during exercise – a common manifestation of PAD known as intermittent claudication.

Wong is part of a team of researchers developing a water-circulating garment system that would help patients improve blood flow without undergoing supervised exercise training, the current treatment option that requires frequent clinical facility visits over a long period of time.

“Our working hypothesis is that repetitive increases in blood flow during treatment will improve vascular function, which will translate into increased calf muscle oxygenation during exercise and enhanced walking tolerance,” he said.

Wong, who joined the Department of Kinesiology and Health in 2014, has expertise and training in thermoregulatory control of skin blood flow in humans and in this project, he will analyze and interpret cutaneous microvascular data and the skin and core temperature data.

“Once we determine the effectiveness of thermotherapy and its effects on muscle blood flow and various biomarkers, we ultimately hope to translate the thermotherapy to a home-based intervention so that patients can perform thermotherapy on their own in their home,” he said. “One of the benefits of thermotherapy is that it is non-invasive, portable and relatively low-cost.”

For more information on American Heart Association grants, click here.