Regulating blood pressure for a good nightA€AsAss sleep

High blood pressure and sleep problems. The connection between the two keeps Ann Schreihofer, PhD, Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology, awake at night.

"People with sleep apnea have a greater risk for developing high blood pressure," Schreihofer said. "Blood pressure increases if the subjects live under conditions that mimic sleep apnea."

Schreihofer’s lab focuses on the ways that the brain regulates blood pressure and how high blood pressure disrupts breathing during sleep.

"The critical factor in sleep apnea that contributes to increasing blood pressure is the occurrence of intermittent episodes of low oxygen levels – hypoxia – due to periodic cessation of breathing while sleeping," she said. "Placing subjects in special chambers that induce intermittent hypoxia during sleep has been shown to lead to high blood pressure that persists even when the subjects are awake and not exposed to hypoxia.

"This is what occurs in people with obstructive sleep apnea," Schreihofer said.

Schreihofer believes that the neurons in the brain that regulate breathing also influence the neurons that regulate cardiovascular functions. Her goal is to map out the ways that these neurons are connected in the brain stem and to understand how their interactions may be affected by exposure to chronic intermittent hypoxia.
"We anticipate that these studies will provide novel insights into the ways that obstructive sleep apnea leads to high blood pressure, Schreihofer said.

She hopes that her research may assist physicians who treat patients with hypertension – to customize patient treatment and medications aligned with the person’s individual medical issues, rather than on the most cost-effective blood pressure medication available..

"Hypertension develops from multiple causes. Optimal treatments may vary depending upon the underlying origins of the disease. Personalized treatment of hypertensive people may enhance outcomes," she concluded.

Recent News

Wellest Team
  • On Campus
|Dec 6, 2022

Wellest Inc. founder Dave Sekowski partners with HSC faculty through Techstars program

For Dave Sekowski, founder and CEO of Wellest Inc., the road to wellness has not been easy. Growing up with limited access to healthy food and education about health and nutrition, he struggled with childhood obesity. “I had to take it upon myself to figure it out,” Sekowski said. “I joined...
IHI Banner
  • Patient Care
|Dec 6, 2022

TCOM leadership presents patient safety course to 2022 IHI forum

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine’s innovative patient safety course and how to incorporate it into an academic curriculum was on display at the 2022 Institute for Healthcare Improvement Forum in Orlando, Florida.  Frank Filipetto, DO, CPPS, FACOFP, dean of TCOM, and Lillee Gelinas DNP...
Stephanie Ibekwe
  • Our People
|Dec 5, 2022

A voice for women in medicine

When Dr. Stephanie Ibekwe’s mother, Sarah, came home from her nursing job, she would tell her daughter stories about her patients and the conversations she had with them. “Nursing is pretty stressful, but my mom had an amazing way of handling things,” she said. “My mom really loved to bui...
Noah Peeri Headshot
  • Our People
|Dec 5, 2022

SPH alum Dr. Noah Peeri produces JAMA Oncology publication just months after graduation

Noah Peeri, Ph.D., MPH, a recent graduate of The University of North Texas Health Science Center’s School of Public Health, has achieved a major milestone by publishing an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology just months after completing his graduate degree.   H...