Supporting the next generation of BC cardiologists

Program funds innovation by early career researchers
woman looking through a microscope.

As part of its mandate to support innovative research and its application to improve the health of Canadians, Heart & Stroke, BC & Yukon, has partnered with the University of British Columbia’s Division of Cardiology to support research by early career cardiologists.

By providing grant support that will protect the research time of awardees, the Cardiology Academic Practice Plan (CAPP) will support increased clinical research and education. This will in turn strengthen the recruitment and retention of outstanding early career physicians in BC. 

Here are three CAPP award recipients.

Dr. Tara Sedlak: Shedding light on sex specific differences in women’s heart health

Dr. Tara Sedlak, a clinical assistant professor in women’s heart health, focuses her research on women and heart disease. She will look into how patient outcomes are affected by factors such as the care received at different hospitals for heart attacks, as well as demographics and medication use.

One of Dr. Sedlak’s studies will seek to determine outcomes and the mechanisms responsible for the recurrence of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). The condition often strikes young, otherwise healthy women and is responsible for a significant proportion of heart attacks. A prominent symptom is chest pain, and her research will be the first to evaluate the potential of ACE inhibitors or statins to reduce chest pain frequency and hospitalization rates in SCAD patients. 

In another study, Dr. Sedlak will assess whether plaque levels or ischemic burden — the frequency of decreased blood flow to the heart — is more effective in predicting cardiovascular outcomes. Specifically, she will look at patients with ischemia symptoms who do not have obstructive coronary artery disease.

Results from Dr. Sedlak’s work will shed more light on sex specific differences dictating the cardiovascular outcomes of women, and will facilitate better patient care and improved quality of life.

Dr. David Wood: Changing global clinical practice one question at a time

Dr. David Wood is trying to answer two simple but important clinical questions: 1. Is there a safer and more efficient way to replace a patient’s failing heart valve?  2. When a patient has a heart attack and their culprit blocked artery is successfully opened with a stent, should other blockages that are incidentally discovered also be treated? 

To answer the first question, Dr. Wood, a clinical associate professor of structural and interventional cardiology, is co-leading the 10 centre North American 3M TAVR Trial. When a patient’s aortic valve fails, TAVR surgery to treat this condition often leaves them in hospital for weeks and with several months of recovery.

Dr. Wood and the team at the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation (CHVI) have helped pioneer the Vancouver Multidisciplinary, Multimodality, but Minimalist (3M) Clinical Pathway. With 3M TAVR, carefully selected patients are awake when they have the procedure and are typically walking four hours later and safely discharged home the following day.

Results from the trial   may establish 3M TAVR as the new gold standard of care.

To answer the second question, Dr. Wood is the co-principal investigator of the 4,000-patient COMPLETE Trial. At more than 300 participating centres, patients who have had a heart attack and have had their culprit blocked artery successfully opened are randomized for either further stenting or medical management. Results of the COMPLETE Trial will likely change global clinical practice.

Dr. Jasmine Grewal: Improving quality of life after surgery for a heart defect

Dr. Jasmine Grewal’s areas of expertise include adult congenital heart disease, echocardiography, pregnancy and heart disease. Her research focus is on assessing outcomes of adults who had the Fontan surgical procedure as children.

This surgery is conducted in children born with one instead of two heart pumps. It creates a pathway that directs deoxygenated blood to the lungs, allowing for the single heart pump to send oxygenated blood to all the organs.

While the procedure provides patients with the greatest chance of survival, they remain at high risk of later complications, such as heart failure and liver disease. Survival, management and long term outcomes in this complex and growing population are unclear.

Dr. Grewal will monitor changes in cardiac structure and function and determine the factors responsible for such changes. She also aims to identify predictors of the complications experienced by the adult Fontan population and their survival outcomes.

Dr. Grewal’s research will contribute to the field of congenital heart disease by improving the understanding and management of Fontan patients and refining clinical practice.

Learn more about BC research funding and its recipients:

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