CCU076: The effect of COVID-19 infection on cardiovascular outcomes: an interaction analysis with environmental exposure

Project lead:
Elena Raffetti & Angela Wood, University of Cambridge, Rachel Denholm, University of Bristol

COVID-19 infection may become an annual winter virus and follow a clear seasonal pattern, like influenza. Environmental factors, such as extremes in temperature and pollution, could make it easier for the COVID-19 infection to increase the chances of getting a severe case of the virus. This has consequences for cardiovascular risk, as both COVID-19 infection and such environmental factors are known to increase the occurrence of cardiovascular events. However, no study has yet examined the combined effect of both COVID-19 infection and air temperature/pollution on cardiovascular risk.

Our research aims to quantify how environmental factors, specifically air temperature and pollution levels, interact with COVID-19 and affect cardiovascular outcomes like heart attacks and strokes. We will also examine whether this interaction is higher in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.

The findings from our research will offer valuable insights for the public, policy makers and healthcare providers. It will help identify who is at greatest risk of severe cardiovascular outcomes due to environmental factors and COVID-19 infection. This information can help us take specific actions to prevent problems. By helping to identify those at highest risk, our results will support more informed decision-making and inform planning and resource allocation for healthcare services. Global climate change underlines the importance of such research.