County recognizes Academic Achievements of Myles O'Brien

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District 7 Coun. David Parker, left, and Warden Robert Parker, right, present Myles O’Brien with a Community Recognition Certificate in recognition of his outstanding academic achievements.

PICTOU, NS - The Municipali ty of Pictou County has paid tribute to a local man who is making a difference in cardiovascular health.

Myles O’Brien, who grew up on a small farm in Pleasant Valley, Pictou County, received recognition from the Municipality during Monday’s Council meeting for his outstanding academic achievements and research initiatives in cardiovascular activity.

“Your dedication and commitment to this field of study is aimed at improving the health and lives of all Nova Scotians. We are grateful for your achievements to date and the positive conclusions of your future research,” said Warden Robert Parker during the plaque presentation.

Upon graduating from high school, O’Brien attended university for his Bachelor studies where he became interested in relating physical activity and aging through volunteering with multiple active aging programs.

He then pursued his Masters at Dalhousie University, studying the effects of different types of aerobic and resistance exercise training programs on blood vessel function in older populations. Now, for his PhD at Dalhousie, he is switching his focus from treadmills and dumbbells to chairs and sofas, studying the effects of sedentary behaviours such as sitting, on the artery health of our aging population. Specifically, by 2030, 1-in-4 Nova Scotian’s will be 65+ years of age.

With advancing age, comes an increased risk of a cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, very little research investigating the influence of physical inactivity on blood vessel health has been conducted, particularly in older adult populations. O’Brien’s research aims to uncover the immediate, short-term and long-term cardiovascular consequences of sitting too much, and investigates if participating in higher-intensity exercise outweighs the negatives of sitting.

To answer his research questions, his lab uses Ultrasound technology to get a ‘picture’ of how blood vessel function changes in response to prolonged periods of sitting. His research has major implications for the development of active aging programs or cardiac rehabilitation programs, and informing guidelines aimed at reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular disease among older adults.

He was also the recent recipient of the Heart & Stroke BrightRed Mission Award that is provided to the highest rated candidate of any academic level.

The goal of the Heart & Stroke BrightRed Student Research Awards Program is to recognize excellent emerging cardiovascular and cerebrovascular researchers in Nova Scotia at differing stages of career development. It provides financial support to students and trainees enrolled in research-based Masters, Doctoral, Postdoctoral and Doctor of Medicine training programs at academic institutions in Nova Scotia.

O’Brien’s research program has also previously received funding in the form of a Dalhousie Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation Scotia Scholar Award and a Mitacs Accelerate Internship Award.