About 10% of the COVID-19 affected patients develop critical illness with a high mortality rate. This critical illness appears to be strongly linked with cardiovascular disease, as the prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidities and risk factors (such as diabetes and obesity) are often found among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The consortium COVID@Heart believes that mitigating this cardiovascular burden of Covid-19 should start early, while patients are (still) outside the hospital.

The Research

COVID@Heart has three core activities:

  1. Develop a tool to identify high-risk cardiovascular patients with COVID-19 in a home environment, before the critical illness emerges. This tool will allow general practitioners to better notify high-risk patients, monitor them more closely (e.g. by using home saturation measurements), prescribe preventive cardiovascular medication earlier ('moon shot') and refer them to a hospital promptly when needed.
  2. Create a diagnostic tool to improve early differentiation between COVID-19 and a myocardial infarction, addressing the challenge of overlapping symptoms faced by general practitioners.
  3. Design a questionnaire supplemented by select biomarkers and blood tests to enhance the detection of cardiovascular disease in COVID-19 survivors experiencing prolonged symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath, as these symptoms are potentially linked to accelerated subclinical cardiovascular disease.
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Contact person:

Prof. dr. F. Rutten (Frans)

Principal investigators

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Cardiomyopathies, caused by genetic mutations affecting cardiac muscle components, pose significant economic and societal burdens due to their hereditary nature and early onset. Despite known genetic defects, predicting disease progression remains challenging due to extreme clinical variability. Recent research indicates that cardiomyopathy mutations induce metabolic stress, exacerbated by factors like obesity, which can accelerate disease progression. The Double Dose hypothesis suggests that targeting metabolic stress may offer preventive or curative strategies for these conditions. The Focus The Double Dose Consortium aims to understand how cardiomyopathy-causing mutations lead to structural changes in cardiomyocytes. This interdisciplinary effort combines experts in preclinical research, clinical genetics, health technology assessment, and clinical care focused on cardiomyopathy in both children and adults. The Research The consortium combines experts in preclinical research, clinical genetics, health technology assessment and clinical researchers with a strong clinical focus on cardiomyopathy in children and adults. These experts investigate how obesity and muscle adiposity contribute to vascular and cardiac muscle dysfunction in mutation carriers through the analysis of clinical data, patient samples, and experimental models. They will also study the mechanisms underlying ultrastructural changes in cardiomyocytes caused by these mutations, leading to impaired metabolism, contraction, relaxation defects, and disrupted cellular communication within the heart. Utilizing extensive patient cohorts and ongoing studies, the consortium aims to optimize care for cardiomyopathy patients by assessing the cost-effectiveness of diagnostics and clinical interventions. They plan to translate findings on metabolic alterations into clinical trials targeting treatments that reduce metabolic stress. The Double Dose program will establish biobanks containing serum, tissue, and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) to provide mechanistic insights into cardiomyopathy pathophysiology and improve diagnosis and care. DCVA iPSC-CM Journal Club iPSC-CMs are increasingly being used as alternatives for testing animals to investigate mechanisms of disease. Do you work with induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs)? Join the DCVA iPSC-CM Journal Club: a journal club that unites six institutes in the Netherlands working on iPSC-CMs. With the DCVA iPSC-CM Journal Club we establish a platform that combines forces to advance the use of stem cells for cardiovascular research in the Netherlands. The DCVA iPSC-CM Journal Club was founded in October 2020 by scientists from the Double Dose consortium. In this monthly journal club, we discuss the latest developments in the field, share protocols and exchange ideas on standardization in order to improve the quality of our own scientific studies. We host national and international experts from the field who discuss the main challenges of iPSC-CMs, but also remain accessible for young researchers to ask their questions. For more information or to apply, contact Birgit Goversen ( DOUBLE-DOSE mini-consortium The DOUBLE-DOSE consortium has allocated a portion of its talent budget for a mini-consortium grant to enhance and expand the scope of their research. This funding initiative aims to promote team science and offers independent scientists the opportunity to collaborate with DOUBLE-DOSE. Projects should be innovative and ideally focused on developing new techniques or generating pilot data to support future funding applications. In short: • Mini-consortium grant for early/mid-career scientists • Budget: € 75.000 per project • Deadline: March 1st, 2023 • Start: Ultimately January 1st, 2024 Please find the document with more information and an application form via the downloads below.
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Currently, it is largely unknown to what extent the heart is involved in COVID-19. The aim of this project is to assess the incidence and consequences of cardiac damage in patients who have experienced COVID-19. How often does COVID-19 lead to myocardial damage? What are the short- and long-term consequences of this damage and what can we do to prevent it from occurring? These are the central questions that will be answered within the DEFENCE consortium. The Research The DEFENCE consortium integrates several national studies initiated at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, encompassing diverse patient groups as part of the COPP study, ranging from elite athletes (COMMIT study) and individuals recovering at home (COVID@Heart study) to hospitalized patients (CAPACITY-COVID registry and CAPACITY 2 study) and children with post-infection inflammatory syndromes affecting the heart (MIS-C). By harmonizing these initiatives, a unique cohort spanning the entire spectrum of COVID-19 severity has been established. The ongoing studies are extended at multiple levels within the DEFENCE project. This includes: Standardized Healthcare Pathway Implementation: Implementing and evaluating a standardized healthcare pathway to assess cardiac damage occurrence within 6 months post-hospitalization for COVID-19. Serial Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (CMR) Imaging: Performing serial CMR imaging to determine the prevalence and reversibility of myocardial damage, with all scans assessed in a core lab. Evaluation of Cardiovascular Symptoms: Assessing the incidence of cardiovascular symptoms such as chest pain and palpitations in the post-acute phase through patient questionnaires. Linking Data to National Datasets: Linking study data to national datasets at Statistics Netherlands to analyze long-term cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. To evaluate whether cardiovascular disease is a characteristic feature of COVID-19, a comparison with other respiratory tract infections, including seasonal influenza will be made.
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