Fluid Dynamics Plays a Key Role in Predicting Cardiovascular Dangers

January 19, 2024

Researcher Caroline Wild

An arterial inflammatory disease called atherosclerosis is the United States’ leading cause of death, but about half of American adults over 45 have the condition and don’t know it, according to the National Institutes of Health. Characterized by plaque buildup inside the arteries, the vascular superhighways that push blood from the heart to the rest of the body, the condition often goes overlooked until it has become serious. 

One promising solution may lie in a field that seems, to a layperson’s eye, unrelated: mechanical engineering. Nora Caroline Wild, a George Washington University graduate student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, is using cardiovascular fluid dynamics to explore possible anatomical factors that could alert at-risk patients early.

“Once a patient has symptoms, that means they already have atherosclerosis which is typically pretty severe,” said Wild, a mechanical and aerospace engineering doctoral candidate in Department Chair Michael Plesniak’s Biofluid Dynamics Lab. “So I’m looking into what kind of pre-existing features could cause someone’s blood flow to have an unhealthy impact on the vessel tissue. Could we look at the geometry of a patient's blood vessels—the angle of their branching, the diameter—to statistically classify a patient as higher or lower risk?”

Read the full article on GW Today.