Kristoffer Grundtvig Skaarup - PhD Scholarship 2021

Project summary:
What happens to the heart when it gets the flu?

Every year in Denmark one in every five gets infected by influenza. In recent years, influenza has been linked to several cardiovascular complications.

This project will explore the mechanisms for cardiovascular disease in hospitalized patients suffering from influenza infection. Additionally, the potential lasting cardiac sequelae from influenza will be investigated by reexamining patients after the resolution of the disease.

Project Title

Influenza and the heart: An investigation into the acute and lasting cardiac effects of influenza infection


Influenza is a major burden on society. As mentioned previously, 20% of the Danish population is infected yearly. Furthermore, 1500-2500 people are hospitalized due to the disease, and 1000-2500 die due to its complications. A growing body of evidence has associated influenza infection with an increased risk of heart attacks, blood clots, stroke, blood clots in the lungs, and infection of the heart and its surroundings. Furthermore, more than half of all admitted influenza patients suffer from heart disease.


This study has multiple aims. Among these are:

  • The prevalence of heart impairment during hospitalization for influenza
  • The prevalence of blood clot blockages of the lung’s arteries during acute influenza
  • Evaluation of potential lasting impairment of the heart after influenza infection.
  • Assessment of the utility of advance ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography) and lungs in addition to measurement of novel blood molecules for identifying influenza patients in high risk of a severe disease course.


We will investigate these aims by creating a cohort of patients hospitalized with influenza at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital. All participants will have blood samples withdrawn to assess newly discovered cardiac and inflammatory blood molecules in addition to standard blood tests. Furthermore, all patients will be examined with CT angiography of the thorax, echocardiography, and lung ultrasound. All surviving patients will be reexamined 2 months after hospitalization with repeat echocardiography, lung ultrasound, and blood tests.

Kristoffer Grundtvig Skaarup

  • MD
  • University of Copenhagen, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences &
  • Copenhagen University Hospital - Herlev and Gentofte, Department of Cardiology

Main supervisor:

Tor Biering-Sørensen, Associate Professor, MD, PhD, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen & Research Director, Cardiovascular Non-Invasive Imaging Research Laboratory, Department of Cardiology, Copenhagen University Hospital - Herlev and Gentofte


  • Jens-Ulrik Stæhr Jensen, Professor, MD, PhD, Department of Clinical Medicine, Copenhagen University & Research Director, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital – Herlev and Gentofte.