A project at the University of Glasgow that is aiming to better understand the effects that Covid-19 infection has on blood vessels and blood pressure has received a grant of £250,000 from national charity Heart Research UK.
Research has shown that people who are older, obese, male or those who have other medical problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or chronic lung conditions, 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.
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 reasons for this are not yet known which is why we need to understand more about the links between Covid-19 and high blood pressure.
This study, which will be led by Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, 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.
Prof 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.
Finally, the study will look at markers in the blood (biomarkers) with the aim of identifying any which are linked with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or death in Covid-19.
This study will give 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. Also, the findings may lead to recommendations on the monitoring and management of blood pressure during the pandemic.
Prof Padmanabhan said, “The burden of hypertension as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic is unknown but given the scale of the infection especially among the young this will be a major concern for the future. In this project, we plan to generate valuable evidence that will inform hypertension management strategies and reduce cardiovascular risk for survivors of Covid-19.”