Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation backs world-first COVID-19 study

May 14, 2020

A world-first study into how cardiovascular disease affects a patient’s ability to fight COVID-19 is now underway in Australia, thanks to funding and support from the Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation.

The new Australian Cardiovascular COVID-19 Registry, named AUS-COVID, is the first national registry of its type in the world, and aims to improve outcomes and lower complications in COVID-19 patients who also have cardiovascular disease.

Principal Investigator and Cardiologist Professor Ravinay Bhindi said his team’s research hopes to answer fundamental questions that will help clinicians triage and treat patients with COVID-19.

“There is an urgency to increase our knowledge of COVID-19 now so we can avoid the infection and death rates we have seen in Italy, Spain and the United States,” Prof. Bhindi said.

“Early data from China and Europe suggests patients who had cardiac disease did quite badly when exposed to Coronavirus, so we need to better understand the effects of pre-existing cardiovascular disease on outcomes, plus how clinicians and health services can be better prepared to manage these patients”.

Prof. Bhindi said cardiovascular diseases affects one in six Australians and the number of those patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 is higher than any other co-morbidity condition, including respiratory disease.

“If you have cardiac disease, getting COVID-19 is more than twice as deadly as having a heart attack, and we are talking about millions of people here,” he said.

“While the measures employed by public health and the general public to lower the numbers of COVID-19 have been phenomenal, as the economy opens up the numbers could rise again, so we need to be prepared.”

AUS-COVID is made up of an expert team of cardiologists and researchers from across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Dr Kunwar Bhatia, who is coordinating the study, said more than 20 hospitals around the country are planning to take part in the AUS-COVID research. The study aims to involve 865 consecutive patients with COVID-19.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation, Nicola Ware, said the Board was excited to fund such an important and timely project.

“Nobody knows or has documented what the cardiology complications associated with COVIDß-19 are, so being able to record all those patients will give researchers lots of information,” Ms Ware said.

“AUS-COVID will be one of the biggest cardiology registries in the world and the RHRF was pleased to contribute $197,371 to make this research possible”.

The AUS-COVID research concludes in early September 2020, and findings are expected to be delivered in November 2020.