COVID research keeps Robertson Centre busy

Professor John Cleland reports on the COVID-related work currently being undertaken by researchers in Robertson Centre for Biostatistics (RCB)

Photo of coronavirus with red and blue background

Cochrane Reviews

Congratulations to Dr Pierpaolo Pellicori for acceptance for publication of his Cochrane systematic review “COVID-19 and Its Cardiovascular Effects”. This found that almost one third of patients had evidence of cardiac injury, that the most common complication was arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation (weighted mean 8.5%), followed by coagulation problems and heart failure.

RCB has supported colleagues in MVLS win four important grants that will provide insights into the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the heart and physical functioning.

Cardiac Imaging in COVID-19: CISCO-19 (GG&C) and COVID-Heart (UK)

Many patients who get severe COVID develop life-threatening heart problems. CISCO-19 (funded by CSO) and COVID-Heart (funded by NIHR) are two observational studies, led by Professor Colin Berry, investigating cardiac function during the recovery phase after hospitalisation for COVID.


CISCO-19 aims to enrol 180 patients from three GG&C hospitals and will assess cardiac function using advanced cardiovascular imaging (MRI) and biomarkers. The long-term effects of myocardial injury on wellbeing and functional capacity will be assessed.

COVID-Heart includes two strategies; a UK national retrospective registry for patients with COVID investigated by CMR and a prospective study that aims to enrol 370 patients across the UK to investigate cardiac function using CMR and biomarkers both early and late (six months) after a COVID infection.

These studies will determine what proportion of patients with severe COVID have cardiac dysfunction and its nature and severity and whether it recovers. Both studies will also look for associated multi-system involvement (especially the lungs and kidneys). Factors associated with severe involvement and recovery will be investigated. Professor Peter Macfarlane and colleagues will analyse digitally-acquired ECGs. Professors Alex McConnachie and John Cleland helped design the studies and will assist with data interpretation. The RCB team have created the electronic case report form and will do the data management and statistical analysis.

Find out more about CISCO-19 | Find out more about COVID-Heart (UK)

CISCO-21 (funded by CSO)

This randomised trial, also led by Professor Colin Berry, investigates the effects of a programme of resistance exercise on recovery after a severe COVID infection. RCB’s Professors Alex McConnachie and John Cleland are co-applicants and helped design the trial together with Dr Tracy Ibbotson and Professor Frances Mair from General Practice and Primary Care, and Professor Rod Taylor from MRC/CSO SPHSU. RCB provides the electronic case report form, randomisation service, data management, statistical analysis.

COVID-Congenital Heart Disease (funded by Medical Research Scotland)

Together with Mr Mark Danton (consultant congenital cardiac surgeon based in the Royal Children's Hospital, Glasgow), Professors Alex McConnachie and John Cleland will be undertaking an analysis of the direct and indirect effects of COVID on the health of children and adults with a variety of congenital heart disease across Scotland using routinely collected NHS data.

Find out more about this study

Robertson Centre for Biostatistics COVID-19 response

First published: 14 March 2018

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