Nurse Practioner Meredith Linghorne
Nurse Practioner Meredith Linghorne shows a patient how to use CardioMEMS, a mobile application system that allows real-time measurement of a patient’s fluid status. The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre was the first healthcare centre in Canada to implant a CardioMEMS device. (Photo: The Globe and Mail)

More than one million Canadians currently live with heart failure, and 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. These numbers cost the Canadian healthcare system more than $3-billion annually, according to the Heart Research Institute (Canada).

"We have an epidemic of heart disease, more specifically heart failure. And we can't keep doing big-box medicine," says Dr. Heather Ross, Director of the Ted Rogers and Family Centre of Excellence in Heart Function and a cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC).

While medical advances in Canada are helping to treat those with heart disease, there are new systems that put the onus, as well as the power to drive an individual's health, back in the hands of the patient.

Innovations in heart failure research are spearheaded at the University Health Network (UHN) site of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, which is an integral program of the PMCC. Here, Dr. Ross and her team are using smartphone apps, digital platforms and even a Bluetooth-enabled monitor implanted into a patient's lungs to help manage symptoms and triggers of heart failure, educate patients and limit hospital trips.

Cardiovascular disease is one of this country's largest killers. Someone in Canada dies every seven minutes from a heart attack or stroke, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

But this advanced technology helps healthcare providers offer timely, optimal and efficient patient care with real-time patient data in the hopes of reducing the strain on Canada's healthcare system.

"Virtual care has been a term that has been thrown around, but I think this is virtual care on steroids," says Dr. Ross.

"What we have is a set of virtual tools to enhance self-care and to enlist patients in their own care, because patients are the largest work force in healthcare."

The main objective is to create an easy-to-use, patient self-care and treatment program that is both mobile and electronically based. Patients don't need to go to the clinic as often, and they can track symptoms and progress at the touch of a button, showing them how lifestyle choices can have an effect on heart health.

PMCC Magazine 

The third annual Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC) magazine published by The Globe and Mail focuses on why Canada's premier cardiac centre is known for being "the heartbeat of innovation." The magazine explores the PMCC model that supports the creation, development and evolution of innovative ideas into action – making "today's idea, tomorrow's practice." It also examines the impact that a culture of innovation has on the way cardiovascular care is delivered now and into the future.

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