I am
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Does physical activity early in life have a lasting impact on heart size, function and health?

Dr Andrew Haynes, Institution: University of Western Australia

2018 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2019-2020


Until recently it was thought that all of an individual's heart cells were present at birth and that changes during the lifespan in heart size and function were related to adaptation in heart cell size. In the past decade it has become apparent that, in fact, the heart has an intrinsic ability to grow new cells, although it remains unclear in humans whether this capacity lasts into adulthood.

A recent Australian study in rats showed that doing lots of exercise whilst juvenile led to a larger heart in adulthood, with more heart cells present, than if a similar amount of exercise was started later in life. In fact, exercise training whilst juvenile resulted in around 20 million more heart cells being present in adulthood, than if training started later in life. The implications of these findings, if they prove to be true in humans, are very important as they would provide further impetus for concerns regarding the high prevalence of inactivity in childhood, and new hope regarding the potential for long term prevention of cardiovascular disease across the lifespan.

A key question remains: is it true, in humans, that early life physical activity (and perhaps the impact of other CV risk factors) can modify heart size, function and health much later in life?

This project will take advantage of unparalleled information available from a large and richly characterized longitudinal study (the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort “Raine” Study) of ~2000 participants in whom detailed phenotypic and lifestyle data, including repeated measures of physical activity and other major risk factors are available throughout childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood. By collecting sophisticated measures of heart wall function at age 30, utilising novel 4D tissue Doppler strain rate imaging (ie cardiac mechanics), alongside measures of heart size and volumes, we will establish the extent to which early life habits and risk exposure impact upon adult heart health.

You might also be interested in

Research Directory

Research Directory

Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Assistant Professor Neil Spratt, Institution: The University of Newcastle...

Constructing Aboriginal health: a review of cardiovascular research, 1933-2014

Constructing Aboriginal health: a review of cardiovascular research, 1933-2014

Ms Joanne Luke, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Exercise and brain volume loss after stroke

Exercise and brain volume loss after stroke

Professor Amy Brodtmann, Institution: Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health...

Lipid disorders in patients at high cardiovascular disease risk

Lipid disorders in patients at high cardiovascular disease risk

Dr Esther Ooi, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Optimizing stroke therapy - advanced brain imaging and rapid restoration of blood flow to the brain

Optimizing stroke therapy - advanced brain imaging and rapid restoration of blood flow to the brain

Professor Bruce Campbell, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Promoting active, healthy lifestyles among women at key life stages

Promoting active, healthy lifestyles among women at key life stages

Associate Professor Verity Cleland, Institution: University of Tasmania...

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Professor Bruce Neal, Institution: University of New South Wales...

Starting early – Increasing young children’s physical activity

Starting early – Increasing young children’s physical activity

Associate Professor Hayley Christian, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Strategies to optimise cardio-metabolic health

Strategies to optimise cardio-metabolic health

Associate Professor Melinda Carrington, Institution: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute...

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Donate to Give with Heart Day by September 15 and every dollar you donate will be doubled*...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Landmarks around Australia to turn red in support of the Heart Foundation’s Give with Heart Day...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Professor Mark Parsons, Institution: University of Melbourne...

The Heart Failure Toolkit

The Heart Failure Toolkit

The Toolkit provides health services with a targeted approach to addressing readmission rates and decreasing variation in care....

Food and healthy eating during COVID-19

Food and healthy eating during COVID-19

Food and healthy eating during COVID-19

Healthy eating and COVID-19 FAQ...

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years....

Supporting local Councils in South Australia

Supporting local Councils in South Australia

Supporting local Councils in South Australia

Resources to help support your council region to be healthy, connected and safe....

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is something you can work on every day. ...

Donation receipts

Donation receipts

Donation receipts

Due to end of financial year and the ongoing lockdowns in several states, we are currently experiencing some delays in processing and receipting of donations....

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Resources to help people follow a heart healthy eating pattern in their daily lives. ...

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

A coronary artery calcium score can be used following a Heart Health Check to estimate your risk of heart attack....

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Q&A with Dr Rachel Climie

Q&A with Dr Rachel Climie

Q&A with Dr Rachel Climie

Vascular ageing and cardiovascular disease in high-risk populations...

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Access to Australian heart disease guidelines is now free at your fingertips...

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

Join our volunteers and make a difference to the heart health of Australians....

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Check back in for the latest updates on Supporting Young Heart events...

Nourishing chicken soup

Nourishing chicken soup

Nourishing chicken soup

1 hour
Serves Serves 6

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Become a Heart Foundation fundraiser, do it for heart and make a real difference to your community....

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Resources available for built environment professionals to help guide in the development of active outdoor and indoor spaces....