This program will help Canadians who faint repeatedly from time to time.
Despite decades of research, we do not yet know why people present for care (or not), what they expect of physicians, why they opt for medical therapy (or not), how much improvement they expect from treatment, and what they view as the acceptable balance between side effects and efficacy. Currently, there is no Canadian patient support group or patient-driven web support that could lead to virtual interactions with them.
And unfortunately, even after decades of research, we have no treatment for frequent fainting that has been proven to be useful.
This program addresses these issues. By the time we are finished, we should have widespread, easily found, on-line help for people and patients who faint and their family members; easy ways for health care providers, researchers, and patients to discuss things together; at least one treatment that we know works; and even a new use for an old drug for a widely known and wholly Canadian drug manufacturer.
In addition to all of that, we will be training young physicians, scientists, and patients in how to do these new kinds of research. A group of people and patients who faint will be trained in how to conduct peer-to-peer research. This will give patients an opportunity to give voice to their lived experiences and expectations, and to inform new treatments.
We will be working together – patients, doctors, researchers, pharmaceutical industry – in new ways. We will help form a Patient Council to provide us with overall views and direction, and start a Canadian patient support group and website. These will be done with the help of a hugely successful international support group based in England, and experts from the Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary who will provide advice on how to have patients put in the middle of research. Patients will provide ongoing input about how things are going, and provide extremely useful opinions right from the start.
In terms of treatment, as a first step, there is a drug that we will enter into clinical testing in a hospital, and at the same time work with patients to have them teach us about how good the drug will need to be to actually be useful to them. If all goes well, we will then do a large clinical trial to test whether it really does work in several hundred people in a community setting. When this is done, we will look at its costs, and at how we can quickly teach other doctors about using it.
Dr. Robert Sheldon
Director of Heart Rhythm Department
University of Calgary