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At Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals, miracles happen every day. This is especially true for our cardiac patients.

Every year, over 200,000 of our community members go through a cardiac assessment at Vancouver Island hospitals, and over 6,300 cardiac procedures are performed on men and women of all ages. While many attest to the uncertainty and hardship that accompany the news of a cardiac condition, our patients take comfort in the fact they have access to a world-class cardiac program.

Over the past 30 years, the Heart Health program at Royal Jubilee Hospital has grown into a national leader and pioneer in cardiac care. The multi-disciplinary teams driving this Heart Health program have forged a culture of excellence and innovation that allows patients to quickly receive the most up-to-date procedures, recover faster and go home to their families sooner. The program has attracted physicians from around the world and turned Royal Jubilee Hospital into a referral centre for cardiac patients throughout Vancouver Island and across British Columbia.

But to perform the latest cardiac procedures, our Heart Health teams need the best equipment.

Through our Campaign for Cardiac Care, we aim to raise $3.2 million to fund 34 pieces of leading–edge equipment in seven different areas of cardiac care.

A gift to this campaign will equip our Heart Health teams with the tools they need to ensure patients have the best outcomes possible. Help miracles happen by making a gift today.

A letter from cardiologist Dr. Shetty

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I am cardiologist. I am a doctor who studies and treats heart disease.

I look after the vital organ that pumps blood to all the other organs in the body. I diagnose and treat all types of heart disease – coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, cardiac tumours, congenital heart defects and many other cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease affects everyone: the grandfather who loves to golf, young parents whose kids are in grade school and the 30-year old marathon runner.

Heart disease is serious. It is therefore critical that we diagnose and treat it as early as possible. My role on the cardiac team is to use equipment to pinpoint the problem. If I can, I will treat the illness myself. Otherwise, I quickly refer the patient to the right treatment specialist, such as an interventional cardiologist, an electrophysiologist or a cardiac surgeon. With leading-edge equipment, I am able to make a precise diagnosis and immediately get my patient the care they need.

That is why I am so grateful to be working with the Victoria Hospitals Foundation this fall to help raise $3.2 million for urgently needed cardiac equipment.

One important piece of equipment we need is a new echocardiogram ultrasound, which costs $100,000. An echocardiogram is a cardiac ultrasound that uses information from reflected sound waves to reconstruct moving images of the heart. These images show me the heart chambers and valves in fine detail. From there, I am able to detect abnormalities that, in some cases, require urgent treatment.

Our team of dedicated echocardiographers, sonographers and nurses perform and analyze around 10,000 of these echocardiograms each year for patients across Vancouver Island.

In my patient Mehmoona’s case, I found a myxoma, a large tumour in her heart that had caused her to suffer a series of small strokes. The echocardiogram allowed me to quickly find the cause of her strokes and set a course of treatment in motion. Today, she is tumour-free and is no longer at risk of any further strokes.

Mehmoona shares her story with you. I hope you find it inspiring.

Thank you,

 

Dr. Karan Shetty
Cardiologist
Island Health

A letter from cardiac patient Mehmoona

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Life is fragile. That realization is never stronger than when you have an unexpected scare with your health. For me, this came with the diagnosis of a tumour growing on my heart. I was terrified and confused. Thankfully, I learned that we have world-class cardiac care right here on Vancouver Island.

Three months ago, I was living a healthy life, hiking with my husband and prepping for a new semester at the University of Victoria where I teach social work. But one afternoon, as I went to move my arm, my body stopped responding. We went to Emergency and within the hour I was diagnosed as having had a stroke.

From that moment on, I had an entire team of people looking after me. They had a profound desire to make me feel safe and help me understand what would happen next. There would be blood tests, an electrocardiogram of my heart and an MRI of my brain to pinpoint the cause of the stroke and its prognosis. The tests showed I had had eight consecutive mini strokes. I was very lucky to not yet have any permanent damage that would impact my quality of life.

Since the first set of tests did not show any blood clots, I went in for an echocardiogram to find the source of the strokes.  A specialized technician was taking images of my heart when I noticed a change in his demeanour. As a social work expert, I read people well and I knew he had seen something unusual on the screen. I went straight to my husband and told him, “Farouk, there is something wrong with me.”

That’s when I met Dr. Shetty. He sat my husband and I down and told us about the myxoma on my heart, a 2cm x 2cm tumour that was clearly visable on the echocardiogram. He explained that while the tumour was most likely benign: small portions of it were breaking off into my bloodstream, causing strokes. “Time is ticking,” he said.

It was a lot to take in and we had so many questions. Thankfully, Dr. Shetty had answers. I was to have surgery in the next couple of days and he explained the process step-by-step. First, I would have an angiogram of the heart to ensure the rest of it was healthy, then Dr. Bozinovski would perform a 4-hour procedure to remove the tumour, followed by a short stay in Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. A specialized rehabilitation program would begin eight weeks later. I was amazed by how seamlessly all the different cardiac teams worked together. I was so reassured by that.

Everything went exactly as planned. Today I am getting back to hiking and enjoying the life I had before this all happened. Looking back at the experience, I am grateful for how Dr. Shetty and the team took care of me and how quickly they dealt with the issue. We are so fortunate to have this level of care on Vancouver Island and access to equipment that helps provide world class care.

Please give today to equip caregivers like Dr. Shetty with what they need in order to continue to help people like me. Your life, or that of someone you love, may one day depend on it.

 

Mehmoona
A very grateful patient

The story of cardiac patient Carolyn

In 2008, Carolyn Thomas was getting ready to fly home to Victoria from Ottawa after celebrating her mother’s 80th birthday when she began to experience chest pain and discomfort — nausea, sweating, pain in the middle of her chest and down her left arm. Breathing was difficult and walking five feet was a challenge.

As a healthy and active woman Carolyn did not believe she was having a heart attack. However, she knew something was wrong and when she reached Victoria she went straight to Royal Jubilee’s Emergency Department.

At the hospital, she was seen by Dr. Manjeet Mann, a cardiologist and the Executive Medical Director of Heart Health. “He sat down beside my bed, held my hand, and with his calming presence told me I had significant heart disease. I remember asking him - are you saying that I might have had a heart attack? And he said, yes, and I’m saying you are also having a heart attack right now.”

Immediately Dr. Mann sent Carolyn to Royal Jubilee’s catheterization lab. Through a small incision in her wrist an interventional cardiologist inserted a catheter that carried a stent to one of her arteries, stopping the heart attack. Carolyn was able to go home shortly afterwards, but continues to receive follow up care from the cardiac team at Royal Jubilee.

“I think we’re always looking for ways to make a patient’s journey better,” Dr. Mann modestly responds when praised by Carolyn. “We have all had a personal experience with cardiovascular health, whether it’s a mother or a father, a friend of colleague. My job, and that of my team, is to ensure we can give each patient the very best outcome possible. Our team, which includes cardiac doctors, nurses, technicians, administrators and specialists such as dieticians and educators, is nimble, responsive and collaborative. In our department, 22 talented and internationally recognized cardiac physicians and hundreds of specially trained caregivers work together to help patients get well and back to their lives and families.”

Carolyn is incredibly grateful for the care she received in Victoria. She knows she was lucky to be treated here and asks that the community continue to support Victoria’s hospitals. “We are so fortunate we have this state-of-the-art facility. I’m so appreciative of the care I received from this talented team.”

 

Click on each icon to learn more about the areas of cardiac care we are supporting and the pieces of equipment we are funding.