Frequently Asked Questions

The HAVEN study
The HAVEN study
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The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the way our blood naturally clots can affect the health of the blood vessels around the body and in the brain, and how this relates to our cognitive function in older life.

Previous research has shown that cardiovascular health conditions (like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes) are linked to brain health and cognitive function in older adults. There is some evidence that certain regions of the brain that are involved in memory may be particularly affected. However, we do not yet know exactly how blood vessel health can affect the brain. In particular, we don’t know whether overall cardiovascular health affects only the blood vessels in the brain, the brain cells, or the ability for blood vessels and brain cells to work together in a co-ordinated way.

This research study will investigate these relationships. One of our goals is to see if there are substances in the blood that can help to identify and protect individuals at risk of developing brain health problems in later life.

You are eligible to take part in this study if you are over 50 years of age.

You are NOT eligible to take part in this study if you have any of the following:​

  • Any clinically diagnosed psychiatric or neurological conditions (e.g. schizophrenia, depression, autism, etc)
  • Diagnosed cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, or hypertension
  • Diagnosed bleeding disorder (e.g. platelet function defects, haemophilia)
  • Any metal implanted in your body
  • Currently take anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication (e.g. clopidigrel, ticagrelor, warfarin, rivoroxaban)
  • Suffer from claustrophobia (the brain scanner is an enclosed space)

If you choose to participate you will need to sign a consent form. After signing the consent form you are still free to withdraw from the study at any time. You will not need to give a reason why, and it will not affect your relationship with the University of Reading or any of the researchers involved in the study.

Participation in the study will require you to visit the University of Reading for approximately 4.5 hours.Information about each of the procedures in the study is provided here.

You will receive £40 for your time and contribution to the research.

Participation of the current study will enable you to:
  • Obtain an image of your brain
  • Obtain information about your body and health
  • Experience what it is like to participate in a laboratory testing environment
  • Contribute to scientific research into body and brain health as we age
  • Contribute to the training of student researchers who are collaborating on the study

Participation in this research will have no direct health benefits for you. None of the tests or procedures in the study can be used for the purposes of diagnosing or managing illness.

There are some risks associated with participating in this study. These risks are:
Common (about 25% chance)
  • Blood vessel function test – Redness or itching
    During this technique, a weak electrical current will deliver drugs to your skin blood vessels.  This non-invasive technique is safe, but sometimes causes brief redness or itching which will go away within 20–30 minutes after the procedure.
Less Common (less than 10% chance)
  • Blood sample – bruising
    There is a chance (about 1 in 50) that venous blood sampling may leave a bruise on your arm. The risk of this will be minimised because the researcher taking your blood will be trained and experienced.

Rare (less than 1% chance)

  • Brain scan – breathing higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide
    This can result in short-term and mild side effects. These include nausea, flushing, hyperventilation (breathing faster than normal), anxiety, sensory stimulation, and feelings of panic. To reduce these risks, trained staff will monitor you for these symptoms before, during, and after this test, and will stop the test if you begin to experience any of these symptoms.
  • Brain scan – claustrophobia
    The MRI scanner is a confined space, and it is possible you may suffer psychological stress, anxiety, or claustrophobia. The risk is expected to be 1 in 200 (0.5%). If you know you suffer from claustrophobia we will not complete an MRI scan on you. Whilst you are in the scanner, we will provide you with a panic button which you can press to stop the scan at any time. There is more information about what it is like to have an MRI scan in the MRI Participant Information Sheet which you have received alongside this information.
All information collected about you in the course of this study will be kept strictly confidential. It will not be possible to identify your from data that may be shared with the scientific community, or that may be included in any report or publication of the study.
The organisation responsible for protection of your personal information is the University of Reading (the Data Controller). Queries regarding data protection and your rights should be directed to the University Data Protection Officer at, or in writing to: University of Reading, Information Management & Policy Services, Whiteknights House, Pepper Lane, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6UR, UK.
The University of Reading collects, analyses, uses, shares and retains personal data for the purposes of research in the public interest. Under data protection law we are required to inform you that this use of the personal data we may hold about you is on the lawful basis of being a public task in the public interest and where it is necessary for scientific or historical research purposes. If you withdraw from a research study which processes your personal data, dependent on the stage of withdrawal, we may still rely on this lawful basis to continue using your data if your withdrawal would be of significant detriment to the research study aims. We will always have in place appropriate safeguards to protect your personal data.
If we have included any additional requests for use of your data, for example adding you to a registration list for the purposes of inviting you to take part in future studies, this will be done only with your consent where you have provided it to us and should you wish to be removed from the register at a later date, you should contact Dr Gabriella Rossetti at​You have certain rights under data protection law which are:
  • Withdraw your consent, for example if you opted in to be added to a participant register
  • Access your personal data or ask for a copy
  • Rectify inaccuracies in personal data that we hold about you
  • Be forgotten, that is your details to be removed from systems that we use to process your personal data
  • Restrict uses of your data
  • Object to uses of your data, for example retention after you have withdrawn from a study

Some restrictions apply to the above rights where data is collected and used for research purposes. You can find out more about your rights on the website of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) at 

Your personal data and consent form will be kept for 5 years before being destroyed.You also have a right to complain the ICO if you are unhappy with how your data has been handled. Please contact the University Data Protection Officer in the first instance.

If for any reason you wish to withdraw from this study, you are free to do so at any point (even during a laboratory test) without giving a reason, and no pressure will be put on you to remain in the study.
If for any reason you lose the ability to consent to the research during the programme, then you would be withdrawn from the study. Identifiable data already collected with consent would be retained and used for scientific study, but no further data would be collected.
This study is being jointly run by CINN and ICMR. It has been reviewed and approved by the University of Reading University Research Ethics Committee.
Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Research at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN) investigates the dynamical interactions that bring about human thought and behaviour – from the fast neural timescale of a few milliseconds, to the slow timescale of life-span development.
Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR)
The Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR) is a multidisciplinary centre that brings together scientists from a wide range of research fields to work to understand the development of cardiovascular diseases, and the underlying obesity-related metabolic diseases from which they develop. Visit the ICMR website here.

This study has been reviewed by the University of Reading University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) and given a favourable opinion for conduct.

If new information becomes available that might influence your decision to be in the study you will be provided a new Participant Information Sheet explain it, and if you still want to take part you will be asked to sign a new consent form.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the study team at

If you have any complaints or comments regarding the study, you can contact the study principal investigator Professor Anastasia Christakou by email at
Complaints or comments can be made at any stage of your participation in the study.