American Heart Association invests $10M to study COVID-19's effects on the heart, brain

The American Heart Association has invested $10 million in grants to fund studies that evaluate COVID-19's long-term effects on heart and brain health. 

The initiative aims to improve the understanding of the "underlying basic mechanisms that cause cardiac, vascular and cerebrovascular complications among COVID-19 patients," according to a Dec. 15 news release. 

Studies selected for the grants may include those that assess tissue damage and those that identify biomarkers that could ultimately lead to treatments. The research will also focus on why some people are more vulnerable to persistent symptoms after their initial bout with the virus, a condition known as long COVID-19. 

"Cardiovascular complications in aggregate have commonly been reported among COVID-19 patients and most often include blood clots, heart inflammation known as myocarditis, disruption of the heart rhythm, heart failure and heart attacks," said Svati Shah, MD, professor of medicine and associate dean for genomics in the cardiology division at Durham, N.C.-based Duke University School of Medicine. 

"Frequently reported symptoms in patients who have effects long after their initial COVID infection have cardiovascular-related aspects including fatigue, chest pain and shortness of breath. The patients also report effects on the central nervous system, including both psychological effects such as anxiety and depression, as well as cognitive effects such as confusion and deficits of memory and concentration," Dr. Shah said. 

The deadline to apply for the new research grants is Feb. 1, 2022, with awardees to be announced in March.


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