NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – The American Heart Association (AHA) has given a major grant to a research team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to study the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the heart and cardiovascular system.
The team – led by Cyndya Shibao, MD, MSCI, Associate Professor of Medicine – will work to discover new treatment options for debilitating symptoms of the long-term illness.
The three-year, $ 1 million grant was one of 11 prices AHA announced on April 14th.
It is estimated that one in 10 people recovering from COVID-19 will develop chronic, debilitating symptoms, including fatigue, chest pain, and decreased exercise tolerance with an abnormally rapid heart rate. These symptoms may persist for weeks after the initial viral infection.
The symptoms of these “long-COVID” patients indicate a condition called postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS). POTS primarily affects women and is characterized by dizziness, extreme fatigue, and a chronic rapid pulse when standing up.
While the cause of POTS symptoms in long-term COVID patients is unknown, undiagnosed inflammation appears to play a role. Various causes and stimuli of inflammatory body functions will be investigated among long-COVID patients and compared with control groups.
Meena Madhur, MD, PhD, Luis Okamoto, MD, Research Assistant in Medicine, and Italo Biaggioni, MD, David Robertson, MD Professor of Autonomic Disorders and Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology will also participate in the research and studies.
Biaggioni was recognized by the American Heart Association as a Distinguished Scientist in 2021 for his contributions to cardiovascular research.