News | July 15, 2011

Canadian Researchers Look at ICD Survival Rates in Post-Heart Attack Patients

July 15, 2011 — Canada is spearheading an international study to determine if an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can prevent death from serious heart rhythm problems in patients who have survived a heart attack. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in Canada and the fastest growing disease worldwide.

Derek Exner, M.D., of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary, leads the study, which is based on his past research (REFINE Study). Exner and colleagues developed a method to identify patients at high risk of serious heart rhythm problems after a heart attack. The institute will be the clinical coordinating centre for the study and will gather patient data from 16 sites in Canada, the United States and Europe during an initial, two-year pilot phase.

The Alberta government, Western Economic Diversification Canada, Medtronic Inc., GE Healthcare, the University of Calgary and other partners are providing $16.8 million to support the pilot phase of the project. The study may eventually grow to include 75 sites worldwide with a total investment of more than $40 million. 

 “Sudden death is a major cause of death in Canada and around the world. Research to identify those at risk and methods to prevent death from heart rhythm problems are vital. This study may change how we manage patients after a heart attack and has the potential to save thousands of lives each and every year. It is an honor to be leading such an important study,” said Exner, a heart rhythm specialist, professor in the departments of cardiac science, medicine and community health sciences at the Faculty of Medicine, and the Canada research chair in cardiovascular clinical trials.

Support from Alberta and Canada is through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement, a joint program to enhance diversification of the Alberta economy through shared investments in technology commercialization, business productivity and competitiveness, trade and investment, and value added processing.

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