Deborah O’Leary, PhD

Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and Professor, Health Sciences

Deborah O'Leary

Office: STH 437
905 688 5550 x4339

My research focuses primarily on cardiovascular health throughout the lifespan. My interests include the effects of childhood growth and development and adult aging on the cardiovascular system. As well, my research focusses on the detrimental impact of cardiovascular risk factors throughout the lifespan and the beneficial role that exercise plays at any age on cardiovascular health. I am also the director of the Brock Functional Inclusive Training (Bfit) Centre, formerly known as the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being.  This facility serves as both a research and community-based exercise centre for individuals in Niagara. The Centre currently has exercise programs for healthy seniors (SeniorFit), individuals with cardiovascular disease (Heart Strong), spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis (Power Cord) and amputees (Brock T.E.A.M.). For further information, please visit our website:

  • The role of childhood growth and development on indices of cardiovascular health
  • The effects of childhood obesity and hypertension on blood pressure regulation, arterial health and left ventricular hypertrophy
  • The link between adverse childhood experiences and cardiovascular health
  • The beneficial effect of isometric handgrip training on cardiovascular and cognitive health in those suffering from hypertension
  • Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology Member
  • American Physiological Society Member
  • Canadian Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Member
  • Wellspring Niagara Board of Trustees

Rafiq, T<, O’Leary DD, Dempster KS, Cairney J, and Wade TJ. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) predict increased arterial stiffness from childhood to early adulthood: pilot analysis of the Niagara Longitudinal Heart Study. J Child Adolesc Trauma In press, 2020.

 Wade TJ, O’Leary DD, Dempster KS, MacNeil AJ, Molnar, DS, McGrath J, and Cairney J. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and cardiovascular development from childhood to early adulthood: study protocol of the Niagara Longitudinal Heart Study. BMJ Open 9(7):e030339. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030339, 2019.

 O’Keefe-McCarthy S, Taplay K, Keeping-Burke L, Ostrowski L, Flynn-Bowman A, Vasilaki M, Vigo J, Hoelzli J, Salfi J, and O’Leary D. Revision of the cardiac prodromal symptoms-screen scale [PS-SS]: a qualitative exploration. Can J Cardiovasc Nurs 29(2): 15-22, 2019.

 Sharif H, O’Leary D, and Ditor D. Cardiac parasympathetic activity and ventricular diastolic interactions in individuals with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 57(5): 419-426, 2019.

Dempster KS, McGowan CL, Wade TJ, and O’Leary DD. Effects of isometric exercise handgrip training on systemic arterial stiffness, cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity, and cognition in treated adults with hypertension: a pilot study. Crit Rev Phys Rehabil Med 30(3): 219-237, 2018.

St. Amour MD, O’Leary DD, Cairney J, and Wade TJ. What is the effect of ADHD stimulant medication on heart rate and blood pressure in a community sample of children. Can J Public Health 109(3): 395-400, 2018.

Klassen SA, Dempster KS, Chirico D, and O’Leary DD. Validity and reliability of carotid-toe pulse wave velocity as a measure of arterial stiffness in healthy individuals; comparison to carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity. Artery Res 23: 32-38, 2018.

Lackner CL, Santesso DL, Dywan J, O’Leary D, Wade TJ, and Segalowitz SJ. Adverse childhood experiences are associated with self-regulation and the magnitude of the error-related negativity difference. Biol Psychol 132: 244-251, 2018.

Sharif H, Ting S, Forsythe L, McGregor G, Banerjee P, O’Leary D, Ditor D, George K, Zehnder D, and Oxborough D. Layer-specific systolic and diastolic strain in hypertensive patients with and without mild diastolic dysfunction. Echo Res Pract 5: 41-49, 2018.

Sharif H, Wainman L, O’Leary D, and Ditor D. The effect of blood volume and volume loading on left ventricular diastolic function in individuals with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 55(8): 753-758 2017.

Sharif H, O’Leary D, and Ditor D. Comparison of QT-interval and variability index methodologies in individuals with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 55(3): 274-278, 2017.

Philips NE, Chirico D, Cairney J, Hay J, Faught BE, and O’Leary DD. Arterial stiffness in children with and without probable developmental coordination disorder. Res Dev Disabil 59: 138-146, 2016.

Klassen SAChirico DDempster KS, Shoemaker JK, and O’Leary DD. Role of aortic arch vascular mechanics in cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 311: R24-R32, 2016.

 Klassen SA, Chirico D, O’Leary DD, Cairney J, and Wade TJ. Linking systemic arterial stiffness among adolescents to adverse childhood experiences. Child Abuse Negl 56: 1-10, 2016.

 Sharif H, Allison D, O’Leary D, and Ditor D. Reproducibility of the QT-variability index in individuals with spinal cord injury. Auton Neurosci 195: 16-19, 2016.

 Hartley GL, Watson CL, Ainslie PN, Tokuno CD, Greenway MJ, Gabriel D, O’Leary DD, and Cheung S. Corticospinal excitability is associated with hypocapnia but not changes in cerebral blood flow. J Physiol 594(12): 3423-3437, 2016.

Chirico D, Liu J, Klentrou P, Shoemaker JK, and O’Leary DD. The effects of sex and pubertal maturation on cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity. J Peds 167(5): 1067-1073, 2015.

  • Cardiac Pathophysiology (Fall Term)
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Practicum (Fall, Winter and Summer Terms)