Towards a better understanding of congenital heart disease


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This article is adapted from the Foundation’s magazine

The new André Chagnon research chair offers tremendous support to this fast-growing branch of cardiovascular medicine.

Last August, the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation announced the creation of the André Chagnon Research Chair in Congenital Heart Disease. Thanks to a $2 million donation from Sojecci, this new research chair will help develop innovative approaches to the care and treatment of patients with congenital heart disease, a heart defect present from birth.

It will also contribute to a better understanding of the complex issue of sudden death in children and young adults born with this condition. “Research is critical to advancing knowledge about congenital heart defects. With this research chair, my hope is that together we can give children and young adults with this condition the best chances of having a healthy life,” said André Chagnon, chairman of the board of Sojecci, the Chagnon family management company.

What are congenital heart defects, exactly?

Ranging from mild to severe, congenital heart defects affect 1% of newborns. Until recently, only a third of such children survived to adulthood. Today, thanks to advances in pediatric heart surgery and the care given to young patients, the vast majority of these children live long lives. The adult population of people with this condition is therefore now larger than the pediatric population. The management of adult patients with congenital heart defects has thus become a cardiology specialty in and of itself. Their medical needs remain diverse and complex, which means that research in this field must continue.

Significant support

The André Chagnon Research Chair has a bright future, and it has already provided considerable support to a fast-developing branch of cardiovascular medicine. Specifically, it will help:

  • establish a provincial cohort of over 100,000 patients with a congenital heart defect
  • create registers in order to better assess the risk factors associated with this condition
  • establish an international research network of leading experts
  • fund several promising programs

These include a program led by Dr. Paul Khairy, cardiac electrophysiologist and scientific director of the Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Centre, on the prevention of sudden deaths related to congenital heart defects. This unique program studies cardiac arrhythmia in patients with congenital heart conditions, and in the next 10 years it hopes to reduce their sudden death rate by 25%.

“The Montreal Heart Institute is an international centre of excellence for treating congenital heart defects. The new research chair will allow us to develop our expertise and continue welcoming complex cases from around the world,” noted Dr. Khairy during the announcement.

To Mr. André Chagnon and Sojecci, thank you for protecting tender hearts.

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