Heart health Sunnybrook Magazine - Fall 2020

Meet Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera, the interventional cardiologist

Dr. WijeysunderaDr. Harindra Wijeysundera’s work involves the tiniest details. As an interventional cardiologist, he diagnoses and treats structural heart diseases using novel devices small enough to fit inside a heart valve.

But he never loses sight of the big picture.

“Each aspect of my work informs the other,” says Dr. Wijeysundera.

In Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Program, Dr. Wijeysundera is part of a team that leads the country in minimally invasive treatments for patients, many of whom cannot withstand open-heart surgery. Among his specialties is the transcatheter aortic valve implant (TAVI) procedure, which involves repairing the aortic valve, responsible for pumping blood to the heart. Dr. Wijeysundera threads a catheter through a small incision in the leg up to the heart, then deploys a mesh replacement valve in the narrowed aortic valve, relieving shortness of breath and chest pain often immediately.

When Dr. Wijeysundera isn’t treating patients in the catheterization lab, he leads an impressive research program that evaluates how health technologies like TAVI can be used to treat even more patients.

“As physicians, we have responsibilities to the patient in front of us, but we also have bigger responsibilities as caretakers of the health-care system,” he says.

Dr. Wijeysundera and his team analyze large amounts of data involving patients who have received devices like TAVIs in order to put forward policy recommendations to key provincial decision-making groups about how such life-saving technologies can be optimized for more patients across the health system. His efforts have been recognized with multiple awards, including his most recent honour, the Distinguished Clinician Scientist Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Profile text by Ishani Nath. Photo by Kevin Van Paassen.