Companies back Heart Foundation COVID-19 research grants

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New research funded by the Heart Foundation and supported by Sanofi and Pfizer will investigate the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on patients’ hearts, lungs and blood vessels.

The research aims to find ways to improve the long-term cardiovascular health of COVID-19 patients who are left with lingering complications after they recover from the initial infection.

Two Melbourne researchers have each received support for their research.

Professor David Kaye, from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, will investigate damage to the blood vessels in the lungs (pulmonary arteries) and the heart, and how this might contribute to ongoing breathless which is the most common persistent symptom after COVID-19.

Professor Thomas Marwick, University of Melbourne, will investigate the damage COVID-19 does to the heart’s chambers and blood vessels, and how this damage can affect long-term cardiovascular function.

The research is partly funded by Sanofi Australia and Pfizer Australia.

“Research into the link between COVID-19 and heart disease is critical," said Heart Foundation CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly.

“Early studies have found that COVID-19 can have devastating effects on cardiovascular health but there is limited evidence about the long-term outcomes and how these cardiac complications can be prevented.

“COVID-19 infection may worsen existing heart conditions such as heart failure and increase the risk of having a heart attack.

“Cardiac arrhythmias (rhythm changes) are possible complications, and evidence suggests that COVID-19 can cause heart abnormalities in patients who previously had no history of heart disease.

“This research will give us a better understanding of the mechanisms behind this damage and will contribute to new ways to manage, reverse or even prevent this damage.”

Professor David Kaye said there was emerging evidence to suggest that COVID-19 may cause long-term damage to the heart and blood vessels of the lungs.

“In our study, we will measure the function of the heart and the pressures within the heart and pulmonary arteries at rest and during exercise in post-COVID patients,” he said.

“This will provide us with better methods to identify the issue, understand its mechanisms and provide much needed insights into the selection of potential treatments.”