About the Project
The interaction between climate change, heat waves, and the elderly is a pressing concern given the number of older individuals is increasing (1). Further to this, whilst heat wave policies propose heat avoidance strategies for older individuals (14), many of this group have low socio-economic support thus facilitating these actions is challenging (17). Whilst recent evidence points to the most numerous heat related challenges occurring in 65+ years old, an impairment in thermoregulation can be detected at ~40 years of age (11) and, by ~55 years an increased risk of hyperthermia occurs during physical activity in the heat (3). Add to this more individuals are working into later life, and the number of individuals at risk of heat related illness/death is large.
A largely unexplored approach to attenuate the impact of unavoidable heat stress on ageing individuals is the induction of heat adaptation via an intervention known as heat acclimation. Heat acclimation is a term given to the rapid induction of heat adaptations in a controlled thermal environment to improve resistance to subsequent heat stress at rest, during exercise, and/or sport. Heat adaptations have been safely and effectively induced in young healthy individuals in a myriad of ways including active and passive approaches (5). The paucity of data examining heat adaptation in older individuals against the backdrop of increased heat waves suggests there is a necessity to conduct experimental work to increase our understanding of the extent to which this heat acclimation benefits older individuals.
The proposed body of work within this project will investigate the induction, retention, and decay of heat adaptation using an ecologically valid heat acclimation approach to improve physiological function e.g. thermoregulatory, sudomotor and cardiovascular adaptation (7), cellular/molecular perturbations e.g. endotoxin, inflammatory, and heat shock protein changes (4, 6, 8, 9, 15), and perceptual responses e.g. thermal comfort/sensation, heat related fatigue, cognitive function, decision making (7, 16), to heat stress in older individuals.
Candidates for this project will likely have a background in exercise, sport, environmental, and/or cardiovascular physiology, though full training will be received as required. The lead supervisor will be Dr Oliver Gibson (https://www.brunel.ac.uk/people/oliver-gibson).
1. Caley M, Sidhu K. Estimating the future healthcare costs of an aging population in the UK: expansion of morbidity and the need for preventative care. J Public Health (Bangkok) 33: 117–122, 2011.
2. D’Ippoliti D, Michelozzi P, Marino C, De’Donato F, Menne B, Katsouyanni K, Kirchmayer U, Analitis A, Medina-Ramón M, Paldy A, Atkinson R, Kovats S, Bisanti L, Schneider A, Lefranc A, Iñiguez C, Perucci CA. The impact of heat waves on mortality in 9 European cities: Results from the EuroHEAT project. Environ Heal A Glob Access Sci Source 9, 2010.
3. Flouris AD, McGinn R, Poirier MP, Louie JC, Ioannou LG, Tsoutsoubi L, Sigal RJ, Boulay P, Hardcastle SG, Kenny GP. Screening criteria for increased susceptibility to heat stress during work or leisure in hot environments in healthy individuals aged 31–70 years. Temperature 5: 86–99, 2018.
4. Gibson OR, Dennis A, Parfitt T, Taylor L, Watt PW, Maxwell NS. Extracellular Hsp72 concentration relates to a minimum endogenous criteria during acute exercise-heat exposure. Cell Stress Chaperones 19: 389–400, 2014.
5. Gibson OR, James CA, Mee JA, Willmott AGB, Turner G, Hayes M, Maxwell NS. Heat alleviation strategies for athletic performance: A review and practitioner guidelines. Temperature ( October 12, 2019). doi: 10.1080/23328940.2019.1666624.
6. Gibson OR, Mee JA, Taylor L, Tuttle JA, Watt PW, Maxwell NS, Taylor L, Watt PW, Maxwell NS. Isothermic and fixed-intensity heat acclimation methods elicit equal increases in Hsp72 mRNA. Scand J Med Sci Sports 25: 259–268, 2015.
7. Gibson OR, Mee JA, Tuttle JA, Taylor L, Watt PW, Maxwell NS. Isothermic and fixed intensity heat acclimation methods induce similar heat adaptation following short and long-term timescales. J Therm Biol 49–50: 55–65, 2015.
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