Early Detection Could Save Lives

KGH Foundation Announces SAVE BC Forum to Advance Heart Health Awareness

KELOWNA, B.C., February 27, 2024 – When it comes to cardiovascular disease, early detection is key to prevention. But why do some otherwise healthy people experience a major cardiac event such as a heart attack? Because it can be hereditary. And now, the SAVE BC (the Study to Avoid Cardiovascular Events in British Columbia) initiative is helping to spread the word about this risk-factor and the test that can help save lives.

Dan Colbeck is a prime example of someone you’d never think would experience a major cardiac event. A few years ago, Dan, a physiotherapist and avid mountain biker from Penticton, had just finished a ride when he began experiencing severe chest pains. When the ambulance arrived to transport him to the Catheterization (cath) lab at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), the only one in the Interior, the paramedic informed him that he had a full blockage of one of his major coronary arteries.

Dan Colbeck, an avid mountain biker and physiotherapist from Penticton, was not aware that he was at risk for cardiovascular disease.

“At KGH while I was receiving treatment, I suddenly lost consciousness,” explains Dan, “Later they told me that I didn’t just have one major blockage – I had three.” Dan’s three cardiac arrests at the age of 40 were the result of undiagnosed hereditary risk factors. But thanks to the specialized care he received at KGH, he survived and made a full recovery.

Dan wasn’t aware of the little-known hereditary risk factor that can be tested for. And this is exactly what SAVE BC aims to address. SAVE BC is a program, heavily funded by philanthropy, that is designed to help patients, families, and health care professionals better identify, treat, and prevent premature cardiovascular disease. The initiative aims to aid early detection and prevention in men under 50 and women under 55, especially those who have a family history of premature heart disease.

Researchers from SAVE BC are hosting a free public forum in April for people who believe they may be at risk.

“We are excited to host this event which will inform our community about risk factors and the importance of early detection and intervention,” states Dr. Frank Halperin, Medical Director of Cardiology at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) and SAVE BC Principal Investigator.

When: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 

Where: Downtown Kelowna Public Library, 1380 Ellis Street 

Details: There will be two distinct sessions 

  • 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, PUBLIC FORUM: Open to everyone, this session will focus on risk factors, prevention strategies, and the power of community support in combating heart disease.
  • 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, CLINICIAN FORUM: Specifically for health care professionals, featuring in-depth discussions on the latest in cardiovascular research, screening methodologies, and intervention strategies to enhance patient care.

The public forum will include critical insights from physicians, examples of the success and impact of SAVE BC thus far, and an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about their own cardiovascular health. It will also feature first-hand patient stories like Dan’s.

And Sharon Varette’s.

Tragically, Sharon’s son, a physically fit and gifted athlete, died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 2017. Sharon and her family channelled their grief into researching early cardiovascular death and came upon the SAVE BC program operating out of VGH (Vancouver General Hospital) and St. Paul’s Hospital at the time.

“Since then, we have donated annually to support a SAVE BC project site at KGH,” says Sharon. “Our hope is that the applied knowledge from the research being done with patients and their first degree relatives will help to improve current practices for family physicians, patients and members of the public, advocating for the SAVE BC protocol to become the standard of care in British Columbia.”

Allison Young, CEO of the KGH Foundation, stresses the importance of SAVE BC‘s mission. “Sharon’s family loss and Dan’s journey from near tragedy to recovery are powerful calls-to-action for all of us,” she says. “These stories highlight the dangers of undiagnosed cardiovascular disease and the lifesaving potential of this type of early detection and intervention. Thanks to the incredible generosity of donors like the Varette family, the Foundation is able to support SAVE BC’s mission to protect our community’s cardiac health.”

To register for the forum or to donate to SAVE BC, please visit kghfoundation.com/save-bc/

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