Sport and Exercise Science research themes

Exercise and the failing heart

Exercise and failing heart

This is a joint research theme with the Cardiovascular and Sport and Exercise Sciences research group. 

Our research investigates how the multiple organ and system impairments characteristic of heart failure integrate to cause fatigue and exercise intolerance, and limit quality of life and ultimately survival. We explore the mechanisms by which exercise exerts its benefits and the optimal training regimes that achieve these effects.

Our approaches range from the measurement of gene expression to in vivo organ structure and function, complemented by in silico modelling. We use animal models and human participants for our research in this area.

In rodent models of heart failure, we investigate mechanisms for remodelling of cardiac structure and mechanical-electrical activity, the ways in which these are reversed by exercise, and how peripheral effects on skeletal muscle may be alleviated.

In human participants with heart failure, we explore how exercise-based interventions can reverse detrimental remodelling of cardiac structure, alleviate pulmonary hypertension and improve respiratory muscle function. We measure cardiac, peripheral and pulmonary vascular, and endothelial function using ultrasound, neuromuscular function using artificial nerve stimulation, and integrated cardiopulmonary and neuromuscular exercise performance with breath-by-breath pulmonary gas exchange.

View a list of academics within Excercise and the Failing Heart

View a list of postdoctoral researchers within Excercise and the Failing Heart

View a list of PhD students within Excercise and the Failing Heart

Key researchers in the area


Area of expertise

Dr Al Benson
Lecturer in Cardiovascular Science
Computational modelling; cardiopulmonary exercise testing; near infrared spectroscopy
Dr T. Scott Bowen
Lecturer in Exercise Physiology
Exercise training; heart failure; muscle wasting; experimental models; pulmonary gas exchange

Dr Sarah Calaghan
Associate Professor in Cardiac Physiology

Rodent exercise analysis; muscle function; calcium signalling; compartmentalised signalling; caveolae; protein chemistry; post translational modification; light and electron microscopy

Dr Carrie Ferguson
Lecturer in Physiology

Mechanisms of exercise intolerance; cardiopulmonary exercise testing and interpretation; rehabilitation strategies 

Dr Izzy Jayasinghe 
Lecturer in Cardiovascular Science 

 Development of 3D confocal and super-resolution microscopy tools to study the remodelling following exercise-induced skeletal myofibre damage

Dr Matthew Lancaster
Lecturer in Exercise Physiology

Factors predisposing to heart failure in old age; interaction of ageing and heart failure predisposing to arrhythmias

Dr Andrew Smith
Lecturer in Cardiovascular Science

Cardiovascular stem and progenitor cells; cell differentiation and function; gene and protein analyses

Dr Bryan Taylor
University Academic Fellow in Cardiovascular Exercise Medicine
Cardiopulmonary physiology; pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary gas exchange; pulmonary mechanics; respiratory muscle weakness and fatigue; exercise intolerance
Prof Ed White
Professor of Cardiac Physiology
Investigation of the changes in cardiac structure; mechanical and electrical activity in response to heart failure and the beneficial effects of exercise on these factors