WAUWATOSA — Scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin are researching the effects COVID-19 may have on Wisconsin heart patients.

A run/walk event in Wauwatosa is helping fund this crucial research.

The Steve Cullen Healthy Heart Club Run/Walk was founded by Cullen’s widow, Gael. Her husband died of a heart attack just days after he ran the Milwaukee Marathon. More than 20 years later, her heartbreak is helping mend others, after creating a fund to further research.

Gael says, “Something came along and took his life away, and I think a lot of people, unfortunately, are experiencing the same thing with COVID.”

This is why 100-percent of the money raised for their virtual run/walk this year, will be devoted to COVID-heart-related research. Scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin are grateful, “I don’t know that I’ve ever been part of something that’s so relevant and that might actually help somebody with long term fixes,” said researcher Hayley Lund.

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Medical College of Wisconsin

Through a $30,000 grant from this run, cardiovascular researcher Dr. Ze Zheng was able to analyze patient-protected Froedtert hospital data. She discovered hospitalized COVID-19 patients with high cholesterol, were two times more likely to die, “More specifically The triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels, causing problems in the heart and vascular system.”

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood.

For reasons Dr. Zheng does not know yet, she hypothesizes that COVID-19 patients with high triglycerides can develop blood clots faster, causing heart attacks, “This something we don’t normally see in other infections.”

Lund adds, “We’re looking at why people may have a severe outcome.”

In order to figure out the Why in all of this, more experiments need to take place. This means more funding is needed. “We pay to get the samples in order to do the experiments so without it we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Lund explained.

Over 25 years, The Steve Cullen Healthy Heart Club Run/Walk has raised more than $500,000 for research like this. They hope this year will continue to support Dr. Zheng and her research team.

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Bob Gregory/CullenRun.com

Gael Cullen taking part in 2020 run/walk event in Wauwatosa.

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