Program ID: Innovation Anthology #297
Program Date: 03/11/2010
Program Category: Health and Medicine
Alberta HEART Researches Cause of Diastolic Heart Failure
PROGRAM #297 INTERVIEW WITH DR. JASON DYCK
MP3: 4.1 MB
Time: 4:30 Minutes
Dr. Jason Dyck is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta and is co-director of Alberta HEART. This is a multimillion dollar team grant by Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions to determine the underlying cause of diastolic heart failure.
CC: JASON COULD YOU TELL ME FIRST OF ALL WHAT DIASTOLIC HEART FAILURE IS?
JD: First of all, heart failure is a progressive condition where the heart weakens and cannot pump blood efficiently for the needs of the body. And diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes too stiff and fails to properly relax after each heart beat.
CC: WITH YOUR RESEARCH PROJECT, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS?
JD: Again, we’re trying to study diastolic heart failure. We will be studying diastolic heart failure. We are assembling a team of researchers from across the health care spectrum to help develop new therapies for diastolic heart failure.
CC: WHAT HAPPENS NOW FOR PEOPLE?
JD: Well right now, the diagnostic criteria for patients with diastolic heart failure are quite poor. We know very little about the disease and the treatments that we’re using have been tested primarily on patients with another form of heart failure called systolic heart failure. And those aren’t as efficacious in patients with diastolic heart failure.
So this is an area that could benefit from additional research.
CC: DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY PEOPLE ACROSS THE PROVINCE SUFFER FROM THIS?
JD: About 80,000 Albertans have heart failure and 40 to 50 percent of those have diastolic heart failure.
CC: SO WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ARE PLANNING TO DO NOW WITH YOUR RESEARCH PROGRAM?
JD: Well what we’re trying to do is obviously develop new diagnostic criteria and treatment strategies for patients with heart failure. We want to establish ourselves as world leaders in diastolic heart failure research.
And what we are trying to do is by bringing this team together, we are trying to make rapid progress in better defining what diastolic heart failure is, understand what causes it and again to develop new methods to clearly diagnose and eventually develop effective treatments for this condition.
CC: WHO ALL IS INVOLVED IN THE RESEARCH PROJECT?
JD: We have a number of researchers and clinicians and health care professionals across the province. There are 23 of us from a number of areas and disciplines. And we all bring with us our own unique interests and are able to look at diastolic heart failure from a number of different perspectives.
CC: IS THIS JUST CENTRED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA OR DO YOU HAVE OTHER AGENCIES INVOLVED?
JD: Yes, both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary that we are primarily working out of, although we will be engaging the rural community as well.
CC: AND I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE INVITING THE PUBLIC TO GET INVOLVED?
JD: Yeah, absolutely. This is a patient-centred approach to research. We’re bringing in patients. We need approximately 1000 heart failure patients to enroll in our program across the province.
And we need to ask them to see themselves as partners in research, not just as research subjects. So we’re very enthusiastic about launching this program and looking forward to working with these individuals with heart failure and gain as much information as we can about this condition and ultimately trying to understand this and develop treatment strategies for patients with diastolic heart failure.
CC: FOR THOSE WHO GET INVOLVED, WHAT WILL THEY HAVE TO DO?
JD: We’ll be performing a variety of different tests on these individuals right from echo cardiography to cardiac magnetic resonance imaging to exercise tests to tests on their vascular function. We’ll be taking and collecting blood samples, storing that blood where we can maybe identify biomarkers of the disease which may indicate ways of diagnosing the disease.
We’ll be also collecting genetic material, looking for maybe genetic predisposition to this condition. So there will be a number of additional tests that will be performed on these patients.
And all that information will also be fed back to the basic researchers where we can build animal models of diastolic heart failure and use those models to test potential new therapies for diastolic heart failure.
CC: FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED, HOW DO THEY GET IN TOUCH?
JD: I think right now this is just to let the public know that there is a new program. Most likely or originally, we will be looking at patients who are already coming into the hospital with heart failure. They will be approached by a research coordinator, asking them to take part in our program.
So again, we’re just letting the public know and our colleagues know that this program has been launched and we’re ready to start working on this important area.
CC: THANK YOU VERY MUCH JASON.
JD: Okay, well thank you.
Jason Dyck is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta and co-director of Alberta HEART.