File photo by ADVOCATE staff Efforts continue by the community to convince the provincial government to fund a cardiac catheterization lab at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Community cardiac awareness dinner and show to be held

Continued focus to bring cardiac catheterization lab to Red Deer

A community cardiac awareness dinner and show – Time is Muscle – will be held next month as a reminder Red Deer still needs a cardiac catheterization lab.

And what else would people be encouraged to wear but red.

Organizer Vanessa Higgins-Nogareda, said when expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre was recently left off Alberta Health Services’ infrastructure priority list, it was decided the message bears repeating.

She said cardiovascular problems are the leading cause of death in Canada, and a cath lab is an emergency procedure to unblock coronary arteries that feed the heart.

“This is time sensitive. The longer the heart muscle is deprived of blood flow or oxygen, the more chance of heart damage or death. So that’s why our event is called Time is Muscle because the longer you wait, the more heart muscle is damaged irreversibly or potentially irreversibly,” said the registered nurse who works in cardiovascular health.

The number of lives a Red Deer cath lab would save, as well as the cost savings, was first made public in October 2016 by Higgins-Nogareda’s husband, Dr. Gustavo Nogareda, who is head of cardiology at Red Deer hospital and trained in the procedure.

She said data shows an estimated 35 people die annually in the region because Red Deer does not have a lab.

“If we had a cath lab, we’d directly save 35 lives per year in Central Zone.”

Cost analysis shows the hospital annually spends $1.5 million to transport patients to Edmonton or Calgary, $1.8 million for longer hospital stays for cardiac patients, $150,000 in rehospitalization, and $200,000 in strokes due to cardiac treatment delay.

“In total, we’re spending $3.6 million per year on the expense of not having a cath lab,” Higgins-Nogareda said.

It would only cost $5 million for a cath lab to operate in Red Deer, she said.

“That $5 million is already being spent elsewhere. We’re still paying to have this procedure done elsewhere, but on top of that we’re also paying $3.6 million in wasted money.”

The $10 million needed for the lab’s capital costs has already been committed to the cause.

Alberta Health Services has said a provincial cardiac care review is underway.

“We’ve done thorough reviews of studies and research that have evaluated a cath lab for a city our size and what we found is we have the population. We also have the expertise. We can also attract other physicians with higher skills to Central Zone if we have the equipment,” Higgins-Nogareda said.

Time is Muscle, at The Krossing (formerly Fratters), 5114 48th St., Feb. 24, will feature music by Time Machine Retro Rock & Roll Revue, a buffet dinner, silent auction, and 50/50 tickets.

Tickets are $65 each. A portion of the money raised will go to benefit cardiac care at Red Deer hospital with emphasis on a cath lab.

For tickets visit

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