Cardiac rhythm disorders are a major cause of illness and death in BC, and the demand for treatment is growing as our population ages. Businessman, philanthropist and VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation board member Ben Yeung had a first-hand account of this perspective when his father Peter, the founder of Peterson, sought dedicated care from some of BC’s most talented cardiologists.

“My father believed in the value of working together and showing gratitude to those who helped us through life,” reflected Ben. Peterson, the company his father founded and of which Ben is Executive Chair & Chief Executive Officer, hosted the Rhythm of the Heart dinner in February 2016 to highlight the need for the Cardiac Electrophysiology (EP) Program. During the event, Ben announced Peterson’s gift of $3 million in support of the expansion and enhancement of cardiac care in Vancouver. Additional donations made at the Rhythm of the Heart dinner have resulted in a total of over $4.4 million raised to date.

EP is the part of cardiology dedicated to the heart’s electrical system. It makes use of medicines as well as advanced technology to help individuals regain control of their heart. The procedures performed by electrophysiologists are minimally invasive, allowing patients to quickly recover and get back to their lives sooner. Ben developed a keen interest in the need for an upgraded and expanded Cardiac EP Program in Vancouver, particularly after a tour of the EP site at VGH highlighted what needed to be addressed to improve patient care.

VGH currently has three heart catheterization laboratories (“cath labs”) where more than 5,000 cardiac procedures are carried out annually. Inside the cath labs, blocked arteries are opened, blood flow is restored and ultimately lives are saved. A dedicated EP lab and an additional cath lab would meet the increased need for more complex procedures, specialized equipment and longer intervention times.

“The treatment of cardiac arrhythmias is a continually evolving field,” says Dr. Jason Andrade, a cardiac electrophysiologist at VGH. “In the past patients with arrhythmias were stuck with ineffective medications or invasive open heart surgery to treat their heart rhythm disorder. In recent years the field has advanced through the use of innovative and less invasive procedures so that patients can recover and return to their everyday lives sooner. There is currently a significant need for state-of-the art equipment to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders, as well as a need to increase our capacity to perform these complicated procedures as efficiently as possible.”

Cardiac Electrophysiologist Dr. Matt Bennett with nurse Heather Engum

Cardiac Electrophysiologist Dr. Matt Bennett with nurse Heather Engum

The dedicated cardiac EP lab will contain the most advanced ablation technology available, as well as enhanced imaging and mapping technologies (fluoroscopic, 3D and a GPS mapping system) in order to precisely localize the source of the heart rhythm disorder. This new equipment will also reduce patient and staff exposure to radiation by over half.

“After touring the shared EP/cath lab site at VGH, it was clear to me that these needs must be addressed to maintain and improve patient care and attract and retain the best and brightest minds in cardiology.” – Ben Yeung

Thanks to the generosity of Peterson and Ben’s special friends and colleagues, a dedicated
EP lab at VGH will soon be a reality, a fitting way to honour his father’s memory and to ensure future patients will benefit from the best possible care for years to come.