CVD-COVID-UK aims to understand the relationship between COVID-19 and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and blood clots in the lungs through analyses of de-identified, linked, nationally collated healthcare datasets across the four nations of the UK.

The CVD-COVID-UK project, led by Professor Cathie Sudlow, Director of the BHF Data Science Centre, is one of the six National Flagship Projects approved by the NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership.

Background

Cardiovascular disease impact on susceptibility to and poor outcomes from COVID-19

Patients with cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of developing COVID-19 and of poor outcomes of COVID-19, such as admission to hospital or intensive care, or of dying. This could be due to cardiovascular conditions themselves (e.g., heart disease, stroke), their risk factors (e.g., age, raised blood pressure), medications, or combinations of these. Understanding which patients are affected and why will help in developing strategies to reduce this risk.

Impact of infection with coronavirus on patients with cardiovascular disease

The direct impacts include immediate complications (e.g., acute heart injury, stroke) and potentially increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events in the longer term, through inflammation, blood clotting risk or other factors. However, the nature and extent of these direct effects are not well understood.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment and care of cardiovascular disease patients

The response by the government and health services to the COVID-19 pandemic also has indirect impacts on the presentation, diagnosis, management and outcomes of cardiovascular diseases. The numbers of people attending hospital with heart attack and stroke declined dramatically in the lead up to and after the announcement of lockdown (as demonstrated by the 4C Initiative). Further, patients were more often arriving too late for beneficial acute treatments (e.g., clot busting drugs) and after potentially preventable complications had developed. To inform government and NHS policy, we urgently need a deeper understanding of these unintended consequences.

Aims

We aim to answer three broad questions (see the protocol for more detail):

  1. What are the effects of cardiovascular diseases, their risk factors and medications on susceptibility to and poor outcomes (including admission to hospital, requirement for intensive care and death) from COVID-19 disease?
  2. What is the direct impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on acute cardiovascular complications as well as on medium and longer-term cardiovascular risk?
  3. What is the indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government and NHS response to it on the presentation, diagnosis, management and outcomes of cardiovascular diseases?

Researchers will access routinely collected datasets across the whole population of the UK within secure trusted research environments provided by NHS Digital in England, the National Data Safe Haven in Scotland, the SAIL Databank in Wales and the Honest Broker Service in Northern Ireland.

CVD-COVID-UK Consortium Membership and Principles

An inclusive, open and transparent consortium has been established to work on the CVD-COVID-UK project. Membership comprises data custodians, data scientists with methodological and analytical expertise (statisticians, epidemiologists, health informaticians, bioinformaticians, computer scientists and others) and clinicians (including cardiologists, stroke physicians, vascular surgeons and others), all of whom have signed up to an agreed set of principles.

Find out more about the BHF Data Science Centre