Deborah McLeod

“It’s great to be part of something that’s going to help save lives.”

When 54 year old Deborah McLeod found herself struggling to breathe properly and unable to walk more than 25 feet, she knew something was seriously wrong.

After speaking with the cardiologist at Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert, Deborah was transferred over to the Edmonton’s Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton. It was here that she met Dr. Justin Ezekowitz, who recommended she consider participating in the VICTORIA study.

Having treated and studied heart failure throughout their careers, Founding Director, Dr. Paul Armstrong and Co-Director,  Dr. Ezekowitz of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre at the University of Alberta, , both recognize the serious impacts heart failure has on the lives of millions of people all over the world. While both acknowledged major advances in care that have enhanced patient outcomes, these doctors recognized unmet needs of many heart failure patients that  new and better treatments might address.

Studying 5,050 participants with heart failure from 42 countries, the VICTORIA study tested the potential of a new heart drug, vericiguat as compared to a placebo: all patients in the study also received the best current treatments. The hope was to see if the new drug could potentially improve the quality and quantity of life for those with heart failure. “Vericiguat is able to move into the cells of the heart and the blood vessels, and energize what is missing,” says Dr. Armstrong. “It then restores the ability of the blood vessels and the heart to work better.”

When compared to the placebo, the study found the drug substantially  reduced chances of repeat hospitalization due to heart failure or heart related deaths. Dr. Armstrong says this breakthrough couldn’t have happened without participation from patients like Deborah.

“Without their participation and willingness to volunteer, this discovery wouldn’t have been possible, because this is the only way we can demonstrate something novel works.”

Dr. Ezekowitz is proud that our team from Alberta was part of this research. “The Canadian VIGOUR Centre, right in the middle of Edmonton, was able to help coordinate this global trial, in collaboration with our partners from around the world,” he says. “It’s a welcome realization of what we have in our own backyard and how we can make a global impact.”

As for Deborah, knowing she was part of something so impactful has been reason enough to participate. “Ultimately, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”