June 22, 2022

U.K. patient advocacy group names Libin Institute a Centre of Excellence

Satish Raj recognized as Syncope Pioneer for contributions to research and patient care
Satish Raj
Satish Raj is part of a world-class team recognized for their contributions to research and patient care.

Irregular heart rhythm conditions can cause an unexplained loss of consciousness called syncope. Studies show that in 39 per cent of children and 30 per cent of adults, individuals with syncope who have an irregular heartbeat are misdiagnosed as having epilepsy.

Misdiagnosing an individual with syncope can be a grave mistake, as an irregular heartbeat can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, an irregular heartbeat and sudden loss of consciousness may be the only warning symptom of sudden cardiac arrest, which causes thousands of deaths globally.

Dr. Satish Raj, MD, a professor in the Department of Cardiac Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), and member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, is a clinician-scientist specializing in autonomic conditions, including syncope.

He and Nasia Sheikh, MSc, have been recognized by the United Kingdom-based patient advocacy organization, STARS, Syncope Trust And Reflex anoxic Seizures, as Syncope Pioneers. The Libin Cardiovascular Institute was also named a STARS Centre of Excellence.

The recognition was given after an annual competition featuring health case studies submitted by care teams from around the world. The case studies were reviewed by an international panel of expert judges, with five winners from Canada, the U.S. and Turkey recognized as Centres of Excellence. The case studies were published in the STARS Healthcare Pioneers Report - Showcasing Best Practice in Syncope 2022.

Raj is honoured the Libin Institute team has been included on the list of sites recognized around the world. “We are thrilled to be recognized as a Centre of Excellence for our work to qualify us as Syncope Pioneers,” he says. “We are proud that our work can be shared with others to improve outcomes for patients around the world.”

Raj notes his colleagues, Drs. Robert Sheldon, MD, PhD, and Carlos Morillo, MD, both professors in the Department of Cardiac Sciences, were key behind the recognition, having worked tirelessly to drive the excellence in research and patient care. He adds the Calgary Autonomic Investigation and Management Clinic treats more than 100 patients, ages 18 to in their 80s, annually. 

Trudie Lobban, founder and CEO of STARS, is pleased to recognize Calgary’s syncope team. “There is no such thing as a simple faint as anyone who has experienced an episode will confirm,” she says.

“For many who frequently lose consciousness it impacts their everyday life, as they may be unable to drive, operate machinery or even care for their young children. Being recognized as a Centre of Excellence will not only encourage other hospitals to establish or improve their own services, but also will enable people seeking a diagnosis to know they are seeing world-renowned experts.”

Dr. Paul Fedak, MD, PhD, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, is also pleased that Calgary’s clinic has been named a Centre of Excellence.

“We have a world-class autonomic team within the Libin Cardiovascular Institute,” he says. “Their focus on excellence in research and clinical care ensures the best possible outcomes for patients. It’s a proud moment for Calgary.”

Satish Raj is a professor in the Department of Cardiac Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is an electrophysiologist specializing in autonomic conditions and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute’s education director.

Paul Fedak is a professor and academic head of the Department of Cardiac Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is a cardiac surgeon, researcher and the director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute.