$2.5M for 'fast-tracked' COVID-19 heart and brain research

By American Heart Association News

(CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)
(CDC/Alissa Eckert; Dan Higgins)

A $2.5 million research grant aiming to turn around results in a year or less will focus on how COVID-19 affects the heart and brain.

The fast-tracked grants from the American Heart Association will delve into the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and clinical management of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Cardiovascular Impact Rapid Response Grant initiative will fund one national coordinating center along with at least 10 project grants of $100,000 each. The application, review and award processes for the grants will be expedited with applications due April 6. The recipients will be announced in early May, with projects underway by June.

"Approximately 120 million people in the U.S. have one or more cardiovascular diseases, which may place them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and experiencing complications of the virus, making it even more critical that we find out all we can about this disease and urgently work on reducing its impact," said AHA President Dr. Robert A. Harrington in a news release. Harrington is the Arthur L. Bloomfield professor of medicine and chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University in California.

"We are committed to quickly bringing together and supporting some of the brightest minds in research science and clinical care who are shovel-ready with the laboratories, tools and data resources to immediately begin work on addressing this emergent issue," he said.

AHA's new Health Technologies & Innovation Strategically Focused Research Centers will have a boost in funds to develop solutions for health care systems, doctors or care providers, first responders and patients.

COVID-19 a disease that primarily affects the respiratory system. However, several reports from other countries, as well as in the United States, suggest risk factors may include high blood pressure, heart disease and history of stroke. The mortality rates in people with these conditions are two to three times higher than in the general population.

Some accounts have included infected people without underlying complications who develop deadly heart rhythm abnormalities from infection and inflammation that damages heart muscle. Stroke and other brain diseases also have been reported in people with COVID-19 in China.

AHA CEO Nancy Brown said in a news release that the organization is committed to providing solutions for the global crisis.

"I am extremely proud of the agility of our volunteer leadership and of the staff of the American Heart Association that allows us to pivot so quickly to initiate vital research to find much-needed answers in these challenging times."

More information about the grants and instructions for applying can be found here.

Editor's note: Because of the rapidly evolving events surrounding the coronavirus, the facts and advice presented in this story may have changed since publication. Visit Heart.org for the latest coverage, and check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials for the most recent guidance.

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