Heart Foundation invests in LUMC research on cold as weapon against cardiovascular disease

2 November 2021• NEWSITEM

The Dutch Heart Foundation, together with its British counterpart, is funding the COOLBAT study to which Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) is contributing. The aim is to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by using cold.

The COOLBAT study is a collaboration between LUMC, Amsterdam UMC and the University of Nottingham. The research team, led in the Netherlands by Dr. Mariëtte Boon of the LUMC, will investigate whether the risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced with, for example, cold showers or wearing a cooling vest. The scientists are also developing an app, to motivate participants to keep up cooling activities for a long time.

Simple cooling methods

It is known that exposure to cold has a beneficial effect on fat and sugar metabolism and possibly also on the immune system. Heat production in brown fat and skeletal muscle plays a major role in this and is an important part of this research project. Boon is enthusiastic about the COOLBAT study: "We have the opportunity to investigate whether this simple to implement lifestyle method has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors. Especially since we’re part of such an excellent international consortium in which many areas of expertise come together! We will collaborate with a research group at Amsterdam UMC which is expert in the immune system. The group at the University of Nottingham has experience with cold therapy such as cooling vests and in visualizing brown fat."

According to Boon, who as an internist in training is part of the research group of Prof. Patrick Rensen at the LUMC Department of Endocrinology, methods such as cold showers or a cooling vest have an important advantage: they are easy to apply by patients themselves. "Currently, winter swimming and ice baths are also very popular, but those activities are a lot less practical if you don't live by the sea or don't have an ice bath in your garden!" she adds.

Accelerating research

The research project received an investment of 1 million euros, of which the Heart Foundation (Hartstichting) is providing 675,000 euros. It has a duration of four years. Like the other two studies, this one ties in with a large, ongoing research project of the Hartstichting, which is investing a total of 1.5 million euros in the three projects. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung (DZHK) are jointly contributing 2.5 million euros. In doing so, the three partners aim to accelerate research into cardiovascular disease and provide new insights.

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