New Quebec study evaluates long-term complications of COVID-19

McGill University

RI-MUHC researcher awarded a grant from Pfizer to conduct the IMPACT QUEBEC COVID-19 Long Haul Study

Montreal, – Sixteen months into the pandemic, testimonies of people suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19 are multiplying, but knowledge in this regard remains limited. A new transdisciplinary, multi-centre prospective cohort study of adults previously infected with COVID-19 in Quebec aims to fill this gap. Winner of an international competition, the IMPACT QUEBEC COVID-19 Long Haul Study is supported by a grant from Pfizer Inc. Led by Dr. Thao Huynh, a researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and an epidemiologist-cardiologist at the MUHC, the study will assess the health of 200 participants over a one-year period.

According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide approaches 200 million. Of these, a significant but unquantified proportion is experiencing long-term symptoms.

“Considering the magnitude of the current pandemic and the exponentially growing number of people with persistent symptoms suggestive of long haul COVID-19 and a possible heart problem, it is crucial to acquire in-depth knowledge of the extent and duration of cardiovascular and other complications from COVID-19 infection,” says Dr. Huynh.

While the primary focus of the study is to measure cardiovascular complications, researchers will also look at the impacts of the infection on the neuro-cognitive, gastrointestinal and urinary systems. In addition, they will compare the severity and type of symptoms in older versus younger participants, as well as by sex and gender. They will record and analyze all major adverse events such as deaths, acute coronary syndromes, hospitalizations for heart failure, influenza or respiratory disease, strokes, thrombosis and acute kidney injuries requiring dialysis or hospitalization.

“By conducting this long-term follow-up study, we hope to develop our capacity to detect and mitigate potential long-term complications of the viral infection,” adds Dr. Huynh, who is part of the Cardiovascular Health Across the Lifespan Program at the RI-MUHC and also an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University.

The investigators aim to recruit adults who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Quebec and have experienced symptoms suggestive of cardiac dysfunction such as shortness of breath, palpitation, dizziness or chest pain during or after COVID-19 infection. Participants must have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at least two 2 months before enrollment in the study.

At a participant’s first visit, researchers will obtain their medical history, body mass index and blood pressure. They will also collect information about their cognitive function, quality of life and nutritional habits, and take certain renal, hematologic and immunologic measurements. In addition, participants will undergo non-invasive tests such as an electrocardiogram, cardiac imaging, and chest x-ray. Except for the cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, all other tests will be repeated one year after the initial visit.

The IMPACT QUEBEC COVID-19 Long Haul Study is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at McGill University, Université de Sherbrooke and the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal. It was designed as a pilot study to collect data for a future larger cohort study.

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