Donor dollars drive the breakthroughs of tomorrow as the Foundation invests close to $31 million in research this year.
Dr. Andrew Demchuk remembers the feeling when he and his colleagues sat down for the first time to view the results of their clinical trial testing a new approach to treating major strokes.
“It was truly an ‘aha’ moment,” says the University of Calgary neurologist. “We essentially were able to show that this therapy not only reduces disability for stroke patients, but also reduces mortality.”
The therapy was endovascular thrombectomy (ET) – using high-tech imaging and equipment to remove a blood clot through the patient’s blood vessels. And the significance was staggering. These Heart and Stroke Foundation researchers had proven ET can cut the death rate from major ischemic stroke in half. Even more, many patients who might have been left with a devastating neurological disability instead went home to resume their lives.
Dr. Demchuk and the team knew they were looking at a breakthrough that day.
Since then their findings in the trial, known as ESCAPE, are revolutionizing stroke care around the world. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is integrating this advance into the Canadian Stroke Best Practice guidelines – making Canada one of the first countries to incorporate ET into the healthcare system.
This story is just one of many breakthroughs that have come from Foundation-funded research – and it won’t be the last. This year, the Foundation is investing close to $31 million at medical institutions, hospitals and universities across the country.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation enlists more than 200 national and international researchers to help us in a rigorous peer-review process to select only research that meets the highest standards of excellence and holds the greatest promise for tangibly improving the health of Canadian families.
Some of our other high-impact studies include:
Preparing family members to provide care to survivors: When someone you love has a stroke, your world can be turned upside down. Dr. Jill Cameron is developing programs to help you and your family cope and care for your loved one, providing education and support through all stages of the recovery journey – from the acute care phase to when your family member has returned home, and beyond.
Identifying genetic risks early to change the future: If your family history puts you at risk for heart disease or stroke, Dr. Robert Hegele has some good news: You can change your genetic destiny. Dr. Hegele is working to uncover the mysteries hidden in our genes and help you take control of your risk factors for these diseases. Dr. Hegele’s research will help to develop new screening tests, new ways to target the inherited risks, and new personalized treatments for heart disease and stroke.
Using your own cells to fix a broken heart: If you or someone you love has suffered a heart attack or lives with a heart condition, there’s hope for a full recovery. Dr. Kim Connelly’s research in regenerative medicine aims to reverse heart damage – not just preventing the heart from getting worse, as many drug therapies do – but even one day recreating a brand new heart.
Minimizing damage to cerebral arteries to ward off dementia: If you have a stroke, you may be at risk for developing vascular dementia. Dr. Eric Thorin is working to increase our understanding of how blood pressure can damage our cerebral arteries – and investigating the links between exercise, blood pressure and the vessels in our brains. The goal is to identify treatments that will prevent or delay the onset of cerebrovascular diseases that can lead to dementia.
Research is at the core of our race to save lives and create more survivors. That is why the Heart and Stroke Foundation funds the best of Canadian research, at universities and hospitals across the country. We invest in research with the most potential to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery.
This year’s nearly $31 million commitment brings the Foundation’s research investment since its inception in 1952 to more than $1.4 billion, making it the largest contributor to heart and stroke research in Canada after the federal government.
Thanks to the generous support of our many donors and volunteers, we will continue to play a significant role in advancing and acting on research discoveries that will create more survivors of heart disease and stroke.