National Recognition for Researcher’s Contributions to Patient Care

February 5, 2012

With roughly half a million Canadians now living with heart failure, the condition is an increasingly common one that can seriously impact an individual’s quality of life. Even when appropriately treated, hospital admission and readmission rates are stubbornly high. George Wells, Director of the Heart Institute’s Cardiovascular Research Methods Centre, has been honoured for his landmark work in advancing care for heart failure patients.

Sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the CIHR-CMAJ Top Achievements in Health Research Award recognizes significant improvements to the understanding of human health as well as major improvements resulting in patient benefits. Wells and former Heart Institute cardiologist Dr. Anthony Tang received the award for the impact of their Resynchronization/defibrillation in Ambulatory Heart Failure Trial (RAFT).

RAFT showed that pairing cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) with the standard implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy in patients with mild to moderate heart failure could reduce hospitalization and mortality rates. At the time, CRT was used only with patients suffering from advanced heart failure. The study followed more than 1,700 patients for an average of 40 months. In the group receiving both ICD and CRT, there were 50 fewer deaths than in the group treated with ICD alone—a 6 per cent reduction in absolute mortality. The results of RAFT have led to changes in clinical care and improved outcomes for patients with mild to moderate heart failure worldwide.