Philanthropist and cardiac patient Heather Cartwright and family enable novel research with generous gift

Toronto (May 28, 2015) – Led by internationally-recognized cardiologists who are leaders in their field, the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre today announces the creation of an initiative to break ground in the cause, treatment and ongoing care of patients with an inherited, irregular heartbeat triggered by a rare cardiac structural condition. The initiative, called The Heather Cartwright Inherited Cardiomyopathy and Arrhythmia Project (CICAP), is spearheaded by Canadian philanthropist and heart failure patient, Heather Cartwright and her siblings, Meredith and Brian.

"We are most grateful that Ms. Cartwright and her family have taken their own, harrowing personal story and put it into action, trusting in our exceptional medical team to find answers for all patients suffering with this rare cardiac disorder," says Dr. Barry Rubin, Medical Director, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network (UHN). "Genetic pre-disposition to any disease is a red flag, and in this case, enduring unpredictable, erratic heart rhythms because of a cardiomyopathy or abnormal heart muscle, means a greatly reduced quality of life for patients that usually leads to chronic heart failure, cardiac arrest or even death," he says.

The Heather Cartwright Inherited Cardiomyopathy and Arrhythmia Project is established through a $500,000 gift from the Cartwright family, and so named for Ms. Cartwright who has been living with progressive heart failure more than 25 years.

"I have a mantra I repeat to myself — 'today is not a good day to die'. I feel like I've talked my way through a few of them. I don't believe it's my time yet," says Heather Cartwright, who was diagnosed with heart failure in 2014 by Dr. Heather Ross, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre cardiologist and world-leading heart transplant physician and Dr. Danna Spears, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre cardiac electrophysiologist with expertise in the electrical rhythms of the heart. "Immediately I saw two accomplished physicians who were addressing my condition much more holistically. My question on the third visit to Dr. Ross was --- what can I do, how can I help? I'm privileged to be able to help and I wanted to help. She gave me five projects that were on the go. We got to the third or fourth one and immediately it was a homerun," says Cartwright who was first diagnosed at age 20.

CICAP will study previous, current and future cardiac patients, using genetic testing and imaging to identify biomarkers that could indicate causes for specific cardiomyopathies that run within families. The project also aims to create a registry for inherited arrhythmias.

"There is so much we still don't know. If we can pursue this in Canada and share our findings with other groups, then we can eventually, hopefully find a cure and better treatment," says Cartwright.

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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