Professor Geoff Head
Geoff head is based at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute and heads the Neuropharmacology Lab. The influence of the central nervous system on long-term blood pressure levels and the relationship between blood pressure and stress pathways in the brain is a major focus of the Neuropharmacology Lab's studies.
Research in Geoff's lab centres on cardiovascular neuroscience and fills a niche between the clinic and basic research. Work is carried out to understand the mechanisms that trigger cardiovascular diseases through environmental factors.
Stress is a main area of investigation, and research is also being conducted on the effects on the central nervous system and control of the cardiovascular system of obesity and other metabolic disorders.
Geoff and his team hopes that better understanding circadian patterns, the day/night oscillations of blood pressure, will shed light on why people are two to three times more likely to have a stroke or other cardiovascular event in the early part of the day. Geoff and his team have developed the first mathematical model used to estimate the rate of blood pressure rise in the morning. While this morning surge has been previously documented, Geoff’s work, which involves a relatively simple but robust mathematical program,
will go towards proving the relationship between these natural elevations in blood pressure and the incidence of cardiovascular events. By analysing ambulatory blood pressure in patients against his mathematical model the underlying mechanisms that trigger heart attack and stroke can be better understood. Research in this area is focusing on the role played by hormones and the nervous system on this phenomenon and whether arteries stiffened by atherosclerosis lead to a greater surge in morning blood pressure.
Geoff’s computer program allows analysis of the impact of everyday life on the blood pressure of a large number of patients. Continuing research has shown that in people with hypertension, the morning rise in blood pressure is steeper than usual at first, and then plateaus more slowly.