“Throughout the intervention and follow-ups, I was reassured. Supported by the very best specialists, I knew that, to a certain extent, nothing could happen to me.”
After her second pregnancy, Julie du Page could no longer sleep. With her head on the pillow, she could only hear the irregular rhythm of her heartbeat. It was scary. Of course, it was explained to her that her condition was stable and that, in her case, the extrasystoles were safe. However, they were bothersome and tarnished her quality of life.
“It seems that the rhythm disorder I was suffering from is quite common in tall, thin people. For years, I was told that I was complaining for nothing, and the symptoms’ impact on my life was minimized,” explains the actress and host.
One evening, convinced that she was suffering a heart attack, she went to the emergency room.
Transferred from one facility to another, it was eventually confirmed that the arrhythmia was the cause of her discomfort. “I heard all kinds of things, including sudden death, but no one was doing anything,” says the bubbly mother
Dr. Lena Rivard comes at the right time
Sick with fear and the feeling of being left on her own, Julie decided to take control of her destiny. It is at the Montreal Heart Institute that she meets the cardiologist Dr. Lena Rivard, whose expertise and reputation are well known.
“The first time I was in contact with Dr. Rivard,” explains Mrs. du Page, “I immediately felt confident. She was sympathetic to my condition and, finally, I didn’t feel like I was bothering or that I was just a number.”
A surgery that changed everything
At 38 years old, Julie du Page had an arrhythmic area removed from her right ventricle. Since then, her life has found a new breath. “It has been seven years since the operation took place, and everything is fine. I have regular follow-ups that do not show any return of the disease. I even got my restorative sleep back,” she explains.
After her time at the Montreal Heart Institute, one word remains in her mind: reassuring.
“For me, the Institute is synonymous with happiness. That of being on the path to recovery, that of being well treated and listened to.”
The first time he set foot at the Montreal Heart Institute, Sylvain Bédard was 13 years old. That was in 1980. He had just lost his older sister, who died of a heart attack while jogging. Her premature death had prompted the Institute’s specialists to screen all family members.
Nearly 40 years later, he still remembers his first consultation. The way the health care team treated him were symbolic of a promise: that he would be watched over.
A second heart transplant
Suffering from a cardiomyopathy, this stay at the Montreal Heart Institute was unfortunately only the first of many. At the age of 33, after several weeks in the hospital, Mr. Bédard underwent his first heart transplant.
“I am not a regular patient at the Institute,” explains Sylvain Bédard. “I have been involved in many firsts and, for me, it is part of risk management. By participating in new protocols, I help to give hope.” And hope is certainly what he needed when he had his second transplant last December.
Today, the man is full of praise for the staff and the advanced care provided at the Montreal Heart Institute.
Becoming the first vector of change
Aware of being privileged, he gives back by getting involved in various committees at the Institute. The one who is currently helping to find various approaches to humanize care and promote patient-physician engagement would like to point out that «cardiovascular health depends first and foremost on our personal involvement. To heal, you have to stop relying solely on the little magic pill. You have to act and listen to your body.”
Cardiovascular diseases do not discriminate. No matter the age or the lifestyle, no one is immune. Not even an extreme sports enthusiast like Jean-Philippe Veillet.
Even if Jean-Philippe was more likely to be involved in an accident related to his activities than being a victim of any other threat, it was his heart, however, that ended up causing him the most concern. Irregular heartbeats, discomfort and breathing difficulties raised a red flag and prompted him to consult the Institute’s professionals.
Soon, Mr. Veillet had an appointment and a series of tests to pass. “I was extremely impressed by the staff’s efficiency and the fluidity of communications between all stakeholders,” says the patient.
Aware that diagnoses and prognoses are often accompanied by fear and misunderstanding, the Institute’s specialists use a model of care that puts the individual at the centre of their concerns. “The staff’s warmth and the quality of the care provided overwhelmed me and reassured me,” continues Mr. Veillet.
After investigation, Dr. Tadros discovered that JeanPhilippe’s heart problem was minor. “With the right treatments, my symptoms disappeared in a very short time. Thanks to regular follow-ups, I now feel safe,” concludes the man who has regained a healthy and active life.
Ten years ago, Jean Boisvert suffered a heart attack. However, thanks to a simple angioplasty, he was able to go back to his daily life and his loved ones. Following his surgery, Mr. Boisvert was referred to the EPIC Centre at the Montreal Heart Institute, the largest prevention and rehabilitation centre in Canada, which helped him to regain his former health.
“20 years ago, my uncle had to have a bypass surgery, a much more invasive procedure than mine. Sadly, 20 years before that, it was my grandfather who died from cardiovascular disease. During my recovery and rehabilitation, I thought of them and realized the full extent of the advances made thanks to research,” explains Mr. Boisvert.
Grateful about the care he received at the Institute, Mr. Boisvert wanted to give back. “I told myself that I, in turn, had to contribute to the advancement of science, so that future generations could benefit from even more advanced care and treatment. For this reason, I would like for my gift to be entirely devoted to research,” concludes the generous donor.
France is a born sportswoman. As far back as she can remember, she has always enjoyed moving and playing many sports, even some at competitive levels.
When she was 51 years old and in perfect physical shape, France started running. “I had in mind to participate in three races in one weekend at Walt Disney World.” In 2016, after a difficult race on a very hot day, she began to feel palpitations.
Time passes, palpitations come and go, but France does not give it any significance. “My heart was not beating at 100 beats per minute. So I consulted late,” she says. But the situation did not improve, and she eventually went to the hospital.
The diagnosis is made: France suffers from The Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome, a congenital disease that causes arrhythmia. The shock is terrible.
Although doctors allowed her to resume her activities, France, worried, took the necessary steps to correct the situation.
In May 2017, after more than three hours on the operation table at the Montreal Heart Institute, France regained a perfectly healthy heart. “I have always felt confident about the Institute. How lucky I was to have access to such care!” says the woman, now in great shape.
Six months later, she finally ran her first marathon at Walt Disney World, after running 5, 10 and 21 kilometres the previous three days. “I can never thank the Institute’s team enough, because thanks to them, I was able to achieve what I call my Dopey Challenge,” she concludes.
28 years old, Mascouche
Senior consultant - Équipe Labrie Belisle | IG Gestion de patrimoine
Jasmin was born with a tetralogy of Fallot, a triple cardiac malformation. When he was six years old, while his condition was considered to be major, he underwent surgery to correct two of the malformations, but a pulmonary valve was still missing. For this reason, he will have to undergo open heart surgery in two years at the Montreal Heart Institute where he's had yearly appointments for the last ten years for MRIs and stress tests. Feeling supported and in good hands, he doesn't hesitate to praise the great care and diligence of the medical team. The Institute's innovative systems at the cutting edge of technology continue to amaze him: on each of his visits, he notices how they evolve quickly, and how they improve the lives of patients.
Jasmin is happy to live without limitations. He is involved this year in the Emerging Leaders Committee of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation to raise awareness in his community to the issues of cardiovascular disease.
35 years old, Montreal
Consulting Director in Public Relations
The Montreal Heart Institute is synonymous with peace of mind and absolute trust for Justine. Having had surgery at another centre at the age of four due to a heart murmur and an atrial septal defect (ASD), she has been closely monitored by a cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute since she was 18 years old. If she has questions or a health problem, she knows that she will be quickly supported by a team of experts. She will soon join the Institute's BioBank to participate in tests that will explore the link between genetics and her heart condition. This approach will help her better understand her illness, and she will participate in a research that will tell her whether it is hereditary.
This year, Justine is proudly involved in the Emerging Leaders Committee of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation to meet with other young and good-hearted philanthropists and raise awareness to cardiovascular issues.
34 years old, Laval
Guillaume has always been very active. Thinking himself perfectly healthy and regularly skiing, cycling and playing hockey, there was no hint that a heart failure would occur overnight. In 2011, he shows up at the ER after he lost consciousness, worried about a significant drop in energy. After extensive testing, Guillaume was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardio myopathy, a genetic defect of the heart's cell structure. His heart is only 7% functional. After his state became critical, he was transferred to the Montreal Heart Institute where he received a heart transplant.
Since his surgery, his lifestyle has changed a lot. Now, he is doubly mindful to maintain healthy habits such a good nutrition and physical activity. He is involved in the Montreal Heart Foundation Emerging Leaders Committee to raise money that will help keep tens of thousands of patients' hearts healthy.
26 years old, Montreal
Louis-Philippe had two surgeries at a very young age: at 10 days for a ventricular septal defect (VSD), and when he was 7 years old for an aortic coarctation. Despite his condition, and his surgeries, he has always done a lot of sports, in addition to feeding his passion for music. At age 20, on his way to work, he has a strong dizzy spell and faints. He later wakes up at the hospital, where he is told that he had a stroke and that his right-hand side is paralyzed. While a university student, he has to go back to basics by writing with the left hand, seeing with only one eye, and having to deal with memory losses. Thanks to sport and music, his friends and family's dedication, and the care provided by the Montreal Heart Institute's medical team, he is thankful to be able to regain a normal life, albeit with some limitations. His progress is unbelievable.
Louis-Philippe supports the Montreal Heart Foundation's cause to raise awareness and to encourage the community to give generously to improve young patients' lives.
40 years old, Laval
Lawyer, Hamelin Vrkic
A patient of the Montreal Heart Institute since he was 18, Pierre-Marc had a defibrillator installed last July. Having undergone open heart surgery at age 3 due to an atrial septal defect (ASD), he notices in May 2018 a lack of improvement in his sports and a more and more pronounced shortness of breath. An arrhythmia is also starting to worry him. In June, he goes to the Institute in an emergency, where we identify a weakness his heart related to arrhythmia, as well as a ventricular desynchronization. Two ablation surgeries later, he has a defibrillator installed. His recovery was quick: a few months later, he even resumed his training!
Pierre-Marc has always felt that the expertise in cardiology at the Institute was very advanced. In each of his visits, he feels reassured and in good care. He is also convinced that the passionate staff who works there is perfectly equipped to support his cardiovascular health. He is particularly proud to be cared for in one of the three best cardiology centres in the world.
48 years old, Montreal
Editor and Customer Service Manager
In the spring of 2003, Stéphane begins to experience some unpleasant cardiac symptoms. One morning in May, he fainted while taking a simple shower. He quickly goes to the Montreal Heart Institute. After a revealing electrocardiogram, he is immediately admitted to do more tests.
After spending two full weeks on-site, the Institute doctors decide he has a congenital disease: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. They then decide to install a defibrillator to protect him against sudden death or a major heart failure. Right out of the hospital, his doctor reassured him with empathy and confirmed that he must continue his activities. He followed this advice and ran a half and a full marathon and he has a fully active lifestyle. Without the immediate support and undeniable skills of all these doctors, his life would have very different. For him, the Montreal Heart Institute is a heart story!
My husband had a heart attack when he was just 37 years old. He wasn’t given any medication or told to follow any prevention program. Ten years later, he had quintuple bypass surgery to prevent a second heart attack, which most likely would have killed him. Afterwards, with close follow-up, he was able to lead an active life with no heart problems up until his death from another disease. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s why I donate to the Montreal Heart Institute.