A project at the University of Glasgow, investigating how Covid-19 damages blood vessels and blood pressure has received funding of £250,000 from national charity Heart Research UK.
Research has shown that people who are older, obese, or have existing health problems have a higher risk of developing severe Covid-19.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is very common with more than one quarter of adults in the UK affected.
The virus causing Covid-19 enters the body’s cells through a receptor called ACE2 which is found in the lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, and bowel.
ACE2 is very important for maintaining many of the body’s important processes including blood pressure, inflammation, and wound healing.
The study led by Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, Professor of Cardiovascular Genomics and Therapeutics, will give us a better understanding of the links between Covid-19 infection and high blood pressure, and help to improve the long-term outcomes for survivors of Covid-19.76516486337
With the funding the investigation hopes to see if Covid-19 can also cause damage to the walls of the blood vessels which makes the risk of blood clots higher and this has been seen more often in people with high blood pressure.
The project hopes to see if the monitoring and management of high blood pressure needs to be a greater priority during the global pandemic.
The study will look at routinely collected health records for people in the West of Scotland who attended hospital or had a positive test for Covid-19 between April 2020 and April 2021.
This will be compared to the records of patients who attended hospital during 2019, for another reason. They will also look in detail at a group of people with high blood pressure.
Professor Padmanabhan said: “The current Covid-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has exposed unexpected cardiovascular vulnerabilities at all stages of the disease.
“In this project, we plan to generate valuable evidence that will inform hypertension management strategies and reduce cardiovascular risk for survivors of Covid-19.”
Professor Padmanabhan’s team will also study a group of people that have recovered from Covid-19 infection.
They will undergo blood pressure monitoring, and tests of heart and blood vessel health.
These tests will be repeated after 12 and 18 months to see if there have been any changes. They will be compared to a group of people who have not had Covid-19.
Kate Bratt-Farrar, chief executive of Heart Research UK, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the work of Professor Padmanabhan and his team, who are conducting vital research into one of the biggest medical challenges the world has ever faced.
“We have known for some time that those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions are more susceptible to developing severe complications from Covid-19.
“We hope that this research will help to explain why this is the case, reduce the risk for this vulnerable group and, ultimately, help to save more lives.”
“Our grants are all about helping patients. They aim to bring the latest developments to those who need them as soon as possible.”
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