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Brain Research Publications

Welcome to the publications section of Brain Health and Wellness Lab. Our research focuses on the brain and we publish articles on various topics related to it. Our publications are a result of extensive research and experimentation. Click on the links below to read our latest publications.

Effect of exercise on sleep quality in Parkinson’s disease: a mini review

The growing incidence of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a major burden on the healthcare system. PD is caused by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and is known for its effects on motor function and sleep. Sleep is vital for maintaining proper homeostasis and clearing the brain of metabolic waste. Adequate time spent in each sleep stage can help maintain homeostatic function; however, patients with PD appear to exhibit sleep impairments. Although medications enhance the function of remaining dopaminergic neurons and reduce motor symptoms, their potential to improve sleep is still under question. Recently, research has shifted towards exercise protocols to help improve sleep in patients with PD. This review aims to provide an overview of how sleep is impaired in patients with PD, such as experiencing a reduction in time spent in slow-wave sleep, and how exercise can help restore normal sleep function. A PubMed search summarized the relevant research on the effects of aerobic and resistance exercise on sleep in patients with PD. Both high and low-intensity aerobic and resistance exercises, along with exercises related to balance and coordination, have been shown to improve some aspects of sleep. Neurochemically, sleeping leads to an increase in toxin clearance, including α-synuclein. Furthermore, exercise appears to enhance the concentration of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which has preliminary evidence to suggest correlations to time spent in slow-wave sleep. More research is needed to further elucidate the physiological mechanism pertaining to sleep and exercise in patients with PD.

Parkinson’s Disease and the Cardiac Cycle: A Rapid Literature Review and Case Series

Background and Objectives: Cardiac function in patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is not well understood. We conducted a review of the literature to summarize all available data on the cardiac cycle in patients with PD and followed up the review with a case series to describe the cardiac cycle timing intervals in this patient population. Methods: Using the search terms (“Cardiac cycle” OR “echocardiography” OR “LVET” OR “IVCT” OR “IVRT” OR “LVEF” OR “Systolic Dysfunction” OR “Diastolic Dysfunction”) AND (“Parkinson’s Disease”), 514 studies were found with 19 included in the review. Results: Studies focused on the impact of medication, the presence of autonomic dysfunction, and resting-state, descriptive observational studies which considered the cardiac cycle. While inconsistent, the evidence suggests that patients with PD have some systolic dysfunction, with recent research implying the presence of subclinical systolic dysfunction. From the case series, 13 participants with PD were included and collected cardiac data daily for 6 weeks. Heart rate was consistent on a weekly basis at 67–71 bpm. Mean week-by-week cardiac parameters were also consistent with the systolic time interval at 332–348 ms, isovolumic relaxation time at 92–96 ms, and isovolumic contraction time at 34–36 ms. Conclusion: These timing intervals add valuable normative values for this patient population and the review of the literature suggests that more research is required to better understand cardiac cycle timing intervals in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

Cardiac impairments in postacute COVID-19 with sustained symptoms: A review of the literature and proof of concept

Although acute COVID-19 is known to cause cardiac damage in some cases, there is still much to learn about the duration and relative permanence of the damage that may occur. Long COVID is a condition that can occur when COVID-19 symptoms remain in the postviral acute period. Varying accounts of long COVID have been described across the literature, however, cardiac impairments are sustained in many individuals and cardiovascular assessment is now considered to be an expected follow-up examination. The purpose of this review and proof of concept is to summarize the current research related to the assessment of cardiac function, including echocardiography and blood biomarker data, during the follow-up period in patients who recovered from COVID-19. Following a literature review, it was found that right ventricular dysfunction along with global longitudinal strain and diastolic dysfunction are common findings. Finally, more severe acute myocardial injury during the index hospitalization appears to exacerbate cardiac function. The available literature implies that cardiac function must be monitored in patients recovered from COVID-19 who remain symptomatic and that the impairments and severity vary from person-to-person. The proof-of-concept analysis of patients with cardiac disease and respiratory disease in comparison to those with sustained symptoms from COVID-19 suggests elevated systolic time interval in those with sustained symptoms from COVID-19, thus reducing heart performance indices. Future research must consider the details of cardiac complications during the acute infection period and relate this to the cardiac function in patients with long COVID during mid- and long-term follow-up.

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