AHA 2011: Canada’s Unique Role in Global Cardiovascular Health

December 5, 2011

Following Burgon’s talk at the International Forum, Philip Devereaux of McMaster University spoke about Canada’s unique place in the world of cardiovascular medicine. Not only is cardiovascular disease (CVD) the leading cause of death globally but by 2020, the incidence in developing countries is expected to increase 120 per cent for women and 137 per cent for men. In developed countries, the increase is expected to be 30 and 60 per cent, respectively.

Devereaux listed a number of Canadian researchers and clinical studies that have had a “profound global impact”, including the Heart Institute’s own Dr. Rob Beanlands.

In the face of this daunting picture, Canada is second only to the U.S. in the impact of its clinical research. Devereaux listed a number of Canadian researchers and clinical studies that have had what he termed a “profound global impact.” These included the Heart Institute’s own Dr. Rob Beanlands and the RAFT trial that showed the benefit of implantable cardioverter defibrillators for patients with mild to moderate heart failure.

Canada has achieved this remarkable level of impact despite a funding landscape that should place it in the middle of the pack. Overall research funding is well behind that of the U.S. and U.K., and a smaller portion of those funds goes to clinical research. Clearly, Devereaux emphasized, output for the research dollar in Canada has been very high. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a reason to continue low per capita funding levels.

In fact, he continued, its prominent role in CVD research should give Canada the impetus to take on questions of interest to the developing world, such as the relationship of Chagas disease to CVD, or under-explored topics such as mitigating the cardiac risk for non-cardiac surgery.