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The Heart

The Heart

Propelling 14,000 litres of blood per day through the nearly 100,000 kilometres of blood vessels that traverse our body is the heart. Our cardiovascular system gives us life. Insult and injury can as easily take it away.

Most know some of the statistics, often owing to a personal trauma: heart disease has infiltrated 1.3 million Canadians and kills 34,000 each year, including 14,000 by heart attack. Another 4,300 people succumb to heart failure. That cardiac arrest kills “only” 450 Canadians is no comfort to those left behind.

Death is not the only metric that matters. For those coping with a chronic cardiac condition, quality of life can be dicey, at best. Atrial fibrillation, a mouthful to say, nonetheless has entered the vernacular of most baby boomers. It affects 350,000 Canadians, more so with age, with the knock-on effect of a three to five times higher risk of stroke, a major cause of long-term disability. All of this is costly: to families and societies.

The good news is that research is chipping away at the numbers. Scientists in the Schulich Heart Program are at the forefront. Their most important tool is not a chisel, but ingenuity. Coupled with a craving to change the course of cardiac care, they are formidable.

Their research moves from the preclinical to the clinical. It is translated to patients via commercialization, and policy and practice revisions. Our scientists are spurred on by the hospital’s support of heart and vascular diseases as a strategic priority. Advances in outcomes, minimally invasive interventions and imaging—like techniques to see inside the heart and vessels in exciting new ways—are forcing this muscle to give up its tightly clenched secrets, beat by beat.

Welcome to our Focus on Innovation—the Heart—at Sunnybrook Research Institute.

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