Cardiovascular Disease and Patient Care

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world, with one Canadian dying every seven minutes. In an effort to combat this, Canada spends $21 billion every year on cardiovascular therapy. Still, there are over 500,000 Canadians living with heart failure and 40,000 Canadians succumbing to sudden cardiac death each year. In North America, 1000 people die every day from sudden cardiac death, establishing it as the leading cause of death in people over 40 years of age.

The past decade has seen the introduction of many important therapies aimed at reducing the negative impact of cardiovascular disease, although patients appreciate little or no significant benefit. A major reason for this is that new therapies have been historically applied to large populations of heart failure patients using a “one size fits all” approach. Would a heart significantly damaged from a debilitating heart attack respond to the same treatment plan as a heart weakened by a viral infection? Currently, many of the invasive and expensive therapies we use are applied to both types of patient, with no attempt made to tailor therapy to these very different conditions. New advances in the field now allow us to make this necessary shift in diagnosis and treatment. It is time to change the way these patients are cared for- realizing the importance of a patient-focused therapy plan for greatest benefit.