Publish date: 12 June 2020

UCLH will be the lead UK site in an international initiative which was today awarded flagship status by the British Heart Foundation and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The research will seek to understand the interplay between Covid-19 and cardiovascular conditions – and to shed light on how best to treat Covid-19 patients with cardiovascular disease.

Fever and respiratory symptoms seem to be the most common features of Covid-19. But many patients develop cardiovascular complications, and patients with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions seem to be at much greater risk of developing serious complications.

For the CAPACITY initiative, centres across Europe will submit data to the Cardiac complicAtions in Patients with SARS Corona vIrus 2 regisTrY, set up and led by Professor Folkert Asselbergs of University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands and UCLH/UCL. Director of the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Professor Bryan Williams is leading the work from UCL/UCLH on behalf of the UK sites participating in CAPACITY.

Researchers will analyse data collected such as a patient’s cardiac history, current medications and cardiac outcome to understand why and how cardiovascular complications occur in Covid-19; why patients with existing cardiovascular conditions are more at risk of complications; and how best to treat these groups of patients.

UCLH and its BRC Clinical Research and Informatics Unit are the national co-ordinators of CAPACITY in the UK, and will provide other UK hospital trusts technical and data management support.

CAPACITY offers a data collection tool that allows researchers across different countries to collect data in a standardised way – which will make it easier to use the data for research.

Collecting the data in this standardised way was a recommendation of the World Health Organisation, due to a current lack of comparable data in this area.

Professor Asselbergs said: “In previous pandemics data around cardiovascular conditions was not collected in a uniform way, meaning it is difficult to combine datasets and therefore do research using the data. With CAPACITY we plan to solve this problem and generate the data we need to ask key questions, such as why Covid-19 leads to cardiac complications, and how we can prevent people with existing cardiovascular conditions experiencing serious side effects.”

Professor Williams said: “Understanding the link between cardiovascular disease and Covid-19 will be crucial for the treatment of our patients – in particular in any future waves of Covid-19. With cases of patients being hospitalised with Covid-19 falling we have a window in which to do this research and answer these questions in a way which has not been done before.”

The initiative is supported by the Dutch Heart Foundation and endorsed by the European Heart Network and European Society of Cardiology.

Visit the CAPACITY website.

Healthcare centres who wish to take part in data collection should visit this page.