New research by a student at Trent University is shedding light on why heart failure patients are readmitted to hospitals. Third-year Biology student Holden Lowes is studying whether hospital readmissions for heart failure have been affected by the switch to virtual healthcare throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holden’s community-based research with the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) involves comparing pre-pandemic and present day medical-chart data to assess variations in demographics and comorbidities among heart failure patients.
“COVID-19 is a relatively unexplored variable when it comes to heart failure,” says Holden, a Lady Eaton College student. “There has certainly been reduced access to services such as in-person visits with physicians, more virtual and phone appointments with cardiologists and a huge change in lifestyles. It will be interesting to see what patterns emerge when we look at the data for heart failure patients; if there are no changes related to the pandemic, that in itself is a significant finding, possibly suggesting that virtual healthcare is a sustainable model moving forward.”
Heart failure is one of the most common reasons for Canadian adults to be readmitted to hospital and is associated with significant patient morbidity and mortality, and costs to the health care system.
Working with Peterborough cardiologist Dr. Michael Hartleib, Holden will also review the data of heart failure patients to identify other common reasons for hospital readmission with a goal of identifying interventions that may help lower readmission rates in the future.
Learning with Real-World Data
While this kind of hands-on experience provides Holden with invaluable professional connections, he said that learning with real-world data is a humbling and rewarding experience.
“These are real people’s lives that you’re looking at and you’re being entrusted with their medical information,” Holden says. “It’s an incredible honour and responsibility.”
He added that classroom learning dovetails with experiential learning, as he finds himself learning about research through a classroom lecture one week and then applies that knowledge to his own real-world research the following week.
As an aspiring cardiologist himself, Holden hopes this research experience will better prepare him for medical school (and a career in medicine) after he finishes his four-year Biology degree at Trent.
Learn more about Trent University’s Biology program, which has practical applications in health care, agriculture and environmental conservation.
About the Trent Community Research Centre
The Trent Community Research Centre (TCRC) facilities meaningful and purposeful community-based research projects and is based out of Careerspace at Trent University. The TCRC connects students and faculty at Trent University with local organizations to create community-based research, service learning, and experiential education opportunities that enhance the social, environmental, cultural and economic health of our communities. Our mission is to be a catalyst for community change through research.