Heart-pounding excitement is extolled by many theme parks and any monster truck rally, but for Vancouver engineer Emmanuel Domingo it has a very different meaning.
An inherited heart arrhythmia runs in Mr. Domingo’s family. It took the lives of four close relatives in their 40s and 50s. Domingo, now 56, not only fears for this own life, but is worried he may have passed on the genetic condition to his three sons, aged 18 to 25.
"I don't want my sons to go through what I did," says Domingo who experiences frequent episodes in which his heart suddenly starts pounding violently in his chest, often when he is at rest. The sudden erratic heart rhythms, which started in his 40s, cause him dizzy spells, light-headedness and the feeling he will collapse in a faint.
An implanted defibrillator, eight years ago, was expected to save him from any life-threatening attack. Instead, it shocked him when it was not necessary, which caused such an explosion of pain in his chest and a surge of adrenalin, that it sent him crumpling to his knees in agony. The anticipation of another spell left him so anxious last year "that I lay on the couch, afraid to go out of the house in case another attack would hit," he says.
Fortunately, a new provincial program is providing the care, support and expertise Domingo needs to not only better cope with his condition and help prevent the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, but also assess and care for his sons.
The BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program, or BCIAP, is a new model of care in BC that combines the expertise of specialists in adult and pediatric cardiology, as well as medical genetics to identify, screen and manage the estimated 7,000 individuals in the province affected by inherited heart rhythm (IHR) conditions.
The program received $500,000 in start-up funding from the Specialist Services Committee, a joint collaborative committee of the BC government and Doctors of BC. Cardiac Services BC funds the ongoing provincial program. View video on the Inherited Arrhythmia Program.