The movement of blood in the coronary arteries is still not fully understood. Unlike other organs, which receive a pulse of blood flow every time the heart contracts, the heart muscle itself compresses its own blood supply during its contraction. ICCH has developed a completely new method of analysing the complex interactions between pressure and flow that occur within the coronary arteries during cardiac contraction and relaxation.
Dr Justin Davies is using this method to identify a series of energy waves responsible for directing blood flow in the coronary arteries. These waves are detrimentally reduced in the abnormal thickening of the heart muscle caused by high blood pressure.
More recently, Dr Davies has developed a new technique to assess the importance of changes in the reservoir properties of the aorta in regulating blood pressure, and the impact of ageing and disease.
Dr Nearchos Hadjiloizou, a British Heart Foundation Junior Research Fellow, is investigating the effect of left ventricular function on coronary haemodynamics. Normally, the blood supply to the heart comes from the left and right coronary arteries. While these arteries originate from the same level of the aorta and experience the same aortic pressure, their flow patterns are strikingly different. Dr Hadjiloizou accounted for this difference by investigating wave generation in each of these arteries.