Over the last months, the world is experiencing a global outbreak of Covid-19. Covid-19, fortunately, leads to a mild viral respiratory infection in most patients. However, about 10% of affected patients develop critical illness with a high mortality rate. Such development of critical illness appears to be strongly linked with cardiovascular disease, exemplified by the overrepresentation of cardiovascular disease or its risk factors (diabetes, obesity) in hospitalized patients. Also, we know that the causal pathway of deterioration into critical illness likely is linked to vessel wall inflammation and formation of blood clots that obstruct blood flow of the lungs. Too often, it then is too late to stop this ‘perfect storm’ of uncontrolled inflammation and thrombosis; only supportive care (e.g. mechanical ventilation) can be provided. The members of this COVID@HEART consortium strongly believe that mitigating this cardiovascular burden of Covid-19 should start early, while patients are (still) outside the hospital. The goals of this consortium are threefold. First, we will develop a tool that helps to identify cardiovascular high-risk patients with Covid-19 already in primary care, before critical illness has emerged. General practitioners can use this tool to ‘flag’ high-risk patients, monitor them more closely, refer them to a hospital, or prescribe preventive cardiovascular medication earlier (‘moon shot’). Second, for general practitioners it sometimes is difficult to distinguish Covid-19 from myocardial infarction due to overlapping symptomatology; therefore we will develop a diagnostic tool that allows for an improved, early distinction between Covid-19 and myocardial infarction. Finally, Covid-19 can lead to prolonged symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath, possibly because the infection accelerates previously subclinical cardiovascular disease. Our final aim is to test a short questionnaire complimented by a few blood tests to enhance an improved detection of cardiovascular disease in Covid-19 survivors

Principal investigators

Prof. Frans Rutten and Dr. Geert-Jan Geersing