Use of PDE5 Inhibitor for Preventing Cardiac Damage by SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 Patients with Cardiopulmonary Diseases

patient laying on hospital bed while doctor examines xray of heart on tablet computer

Pre-existing cardiopulmonary diseases are linked to increased cardiac damage and elevated rates of morbidity and mortality in patients with COVID-19. However, a recent study showed that patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 had more mild symptoms, fewer hospitalizations, no significant cardiac damage, and quicker recovery than expected.

Led by Bong Sook Jhun, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, researchers in this study will explore why COVID-19 patients with pre-existing PAH have a lower risk for severe illness and death, despite the fact that patients with general cardiopulmonary disease have a significantly higher risk. They will also assess whether they can use clinically approved PAH-specific medications to mitigate the increased risk of death in COVID-19 patients with other cardiovascular diseases.

“It is likely that some of the medications targeted to treat PAH play a protective role during SARS-CoV-2 infection, potentially by blocking host-cell injury in the cardiopulmonary system,” said Jhun. “Our project may provide clues to understand the cardiovascular impact of COVID-19 and lead to new treatment strategies to reduce the cardiac risks in COVID-19 patients with pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.