'We started this because of him': Local effort to fund heart research in memory of Steve Cullen now helping in study of COVID

NOW: ’We started this because of him’: Local effort to fund heart research in memory of Steve Cullen now helping in study of COVID

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- February is American Heart Month, a fitting time to hold an event that raises money for life-saving heart research. The Steve Cullen Healthy Heart Club Run and Walk steps off for the 25th time on Saturday morning, Feb. 12.

For more than a quarter century, the club has helped fund local research into heart disease in memory of Steve Cullen, a former Milwaukee alderman who died tragically young from a heart attack at age 40. Now the pandemic has added urgency to the organization's mission.

On CBS 58 Sunday Morning, Michael Schlesinger explored local efforts to study the relationship between COVID and heart disease through research funded in large part by the Steve Cullen Healthy Heart Club.

The Team of The Current Cullen Scholar, Dr. Ze Zheng...

  • Hayley Lund, lab manager, experienced in cardiovascular research for 16 years at the MCW
  • Wen Dai, MD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, experienced in clinical cardiology. 
  • Ziyu Zhang, MD, Postdoctoral research Fellow, experienced in clinical cardiology.
  • Maya Rodriguez, lab technician, also undergrad student at Marquette University

Brief Summary of Research...

  • We were lucky to receive this timely Cullen Scholar Award to help us to study the cardiovascular diseases in COVID-19 patients. Within the last year, our research laboratory carried out three studies looking at what might be the factors that make some patients have deadly heart diseases when contracted COVID-19 and admitted to the hospital.
  • You might have heard of blood clots that developed in the severe COVID-19 patients. Those blood clots formed in blood vessels block the blood flow, and lead to heart attack, stroke or organ failures.
  • Our bodies have a natural system to dissolve blood clots when they form in our blood vessels. We found this natural capacity to dissolve blood clots is lowered in severe COVID-19 patients.
  • Our studies help to understand what are the things the clinical doctors should consider when estimate the risk of patients developing deadly blood clots. The levels of triglyceride (a type of lipids), the protein particles that carry lipids, and blood clot breaking down capacity are the things might be helpful to assess the risk of hospitalized sever COVID-19 patients in developing deadly blood clots.
  • Higher triglyceride levels associate with higher risk of death in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We published this study in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.  

List of All Cullen Scholars

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