Toronto (Sept. 14, 2016) – Patients, physicians and attendees will throw their lines in for an important catch today at the Caledon Mountain Trout Club during the first "Cast & Blast" event to support research into the often fatal heart disorder called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Spearheaded by Heather Cartwr​ight, an ARVC patient, and her family, the event directly supports the Heather Cartwright Inherited Cardiomyopathy and Arrhythmia Project at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), University Health Network (UHN).

"The Cartwright family is bravely putting a face on this rare, congenital heart condition, turning a challenging diagnosis into a tangible call-to-action that could significantly impact other patients and their families who may face similar diagnoses with a strong genetic link," says Dr. Barry Rubin, Medical Director, PMCC, UHN.

"Our medical team is trying to unravel the cause of this electrical dysfunction of the heart, which manifests itself in heart rhythms, chronic heart failure, diminished quality of life, and the risk of death," he says.

The Heather Cartwright Inherited Cardiomyopathy and Arrhythmia Project (CICAP) was established in 2015 through a gift of $500,000 from Heather, a Peter Munk Cardiac Centre patient, and her siblings Brian and Meredith. This year's "Cast & Blast" aims to further spotlight ARVC, and raise funds to support more research in this area.

"Since being diagnosed with ventricular arrhythmia in 1990 at the age of 20, while at the peak of my fitness and athletic training and in the midst of my Olympic aspirations, I determined that this condition would not be my life sentence," says Heather.

Heather was diagnosed with ARVC in 1996, and her sister Meredith was recently diagnosed with the same condition. "The care I've received from thorough and knowledgeable medical specialists in this field here in Canada has inspired me to turn my 26-year-long journey of daily survival into a life's work and a living legacy," she says.

Among those participating in the first-ever "Cast & Blast" is Marnie McBean, five-time Canadian Olympic medallist in rowing - the same sport that Heather competed in at an elite level prior to her heart failure diagnosis in 2012. Heather and Marnie, childhood friends, were also rowing teammates at Western University. The pair was together in the same boat in September 1990, when Heather collapsed following a race and nearly died due to a cardiac event.

Funds raised through "Cast & Blast" will support the CICAP led by PMCC cardiologists including Dr. Heather Ross, a heart failure and transplant specialist, and Dr. Danna Spears, a cardiac electrophysiologist with expertise in the electrical rhythms of the heart. As part of its mandate, CICAP uses genetic testing and imaging to pinpoint biomarkers of past, current and future cardiac patients. These biomarkers could help identify the cause of specific cardiomyopathies that run within families. The Project will also create a registry for inherited arrhythmias.

About the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is the premier cardiac centre in Canada. Since it opened in 1997, the Centre has saved and improved the lives of cardiac and vascular patients from around the world. Each year, approximately 55,000 patients receive innovative and compassionate care from multidisciplinary teams in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, and the Centre trains more cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and vascular surgeons than any other hospital in Canada. The Centre is based at the Toronto General Hospital and the Toronto Western Hospital - members of University Health Network.

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