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Heart and Stroke Research

Stroke is the leading cause of disability among adults in Canada and the third leading cause of death, killing 14,000 people annually.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada, and 9 in 10 Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor for heart disease.

Alberta has been a significant contributor to heart and stroke research, and we want to keep that momentum going. Although plenty of progress has been made in the diagnosis and prevention of neurological and cardiovascular diseases, we’re still looking to research to develop even better treatments.

Research Facilities

Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta

The Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta is a virtual institute that coordinates and integrates cardiovascular science research, education, and patient care in southern Alberta. More than 175 research and clinician members make up the institute.

They provide education and training of health care professionals, world-class treatment using innovative technologies, and access to cardiac services through novel healthcare solutions.

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) is an internationally recognized centre of excellence in brain and mental health research and education, based at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and working in partnership with Alberta Health Services. The HBI is composed of nearly 750 people, all working towards a shared mission to inspire discovery and apply knowledge towards new solutions for neurological and mental health disorders.

Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute

The Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton is a world leader in complex cardiac care and surgery. With a collaborative approach, their team of highly skilled cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, cardiac care professionals, researchers, and educators are advancing the prevention, detection, treatment, and study of cardiovascular disease.

Canadian Vigour Centre

The Canadian VIGOUR Centre (CVC) is an Academic Research Organization (ARO) committed to the enhancement of cardiovascular health. The CVC is anchored by a dedicated group of internationally-recognized thought leaders in cardiovascular medicine and clinical investigation who translate research into practice. 

Research Spotlight: ESCAPE Trial

“This is the most significant and fundamental change in acute ischemic stroke treatment in the last 20 years. These results will impact stroke care around the world.” –Dr. Michael Hill

In the past, standard care for acute strokes was to administer tPa, a clot-busting drug, to patients within 4.5 hours of experiencing symptoms. But this treatment wasn’t working effectively on patients who had large clots in the major vessels leading to their brain. 

Director of the Calgary Stroke Program, Dr. Andrew Demchuk, and his colleagues Dr. Mayank Goyal and Dr. Michael Hill looked to Endovascular Therapy to tackle acute strokes in a new way. Endovascular Therapy involves retrieving the clot by making a small incision, inserting a catheter, and using instruments inserted through the catheter to manually remove the clot.

The three physicians tested the therapy’s effectiveness through leading the internationally-renowned ESCAPE Trial. The study was held at 22 sites worldwide, with Calgary and Edmonton being the main recruitment centres. 316 patients arrived within 12 hours of their stroke onset, and were randomly chosen to receive either standard medical care including tPa, or standard care combined with Endovascular Therapy.

The results of the study revolutionized the treatment of acute strokes. The ESCAPE trial showed that patients being treated with Endovascular Therapy had a 23.7% reduced chance for stroke-related disability, and were half as likely to die within 3 months of their stroke.

This Alberta-based study dramatically changed stroke treatment for patients around the world, and speaks to the power of health research to change lives, and potentially save them.

The Alberta-run ESCAPE Trial resulted in a groundbreaking stroke treatment procedure, reducing the number of deaths by 50%.