Neurologist Recognized for Developing Novel Brain Scan to Save Lives

    Heart and Stroke Foundation Bestows First Ever Distinguished Clinician
    Scientist Award

    CALGARY, June 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Award-winning neurologist Dr. Shelagh
Coutts is on the fast track of developing new brain scanning techniques for
rapid and effective diagnosis of mini-strokes.
    To support this leading and innovative research in Alberta, the Heart and
Stroke Foundation of Canada has awarded Dr. Coutts, assistant professor in the
Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary, with the
first Distinguished Clinician Scientist 2009 award in partnership with the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Circulatory and
Respiratory Health and AstraZeneca Canada Inc.
    "We are so pleased to be presenting our very first Distinguished
Clinician Scientist award to Dr. Shelagh Coutts. This is the highest ranking
and one of the most prestigious awards offered to a researcher by the
Foundation," says Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of
    Because time is of the essence when dealing with a mini-stroke or a
transient ischemic attack (TIA), patients need to be diagnosed and treated as
quickly as possible. Almost half of recurrent strokes, large or small, occur
within two days of the initial TIA.
    "Patients who may be having a mini-stroke don't always have access to an
MRI to see what's happening in the brain," explains Dr. Coutts. "In order to
quickly visualize where there is a bleed or blockage in the brain, we are
developing a combined approach using a CT scan together with an angiogram
(CTA) (injecting a dye into the bloodstream to visualize the blood vessels)."
    Dr. Coutts started this study, entitled CATCH, one year ago with the
support of an ongoing CIHR grant and Pfizer Cardiovascular Research Award. The
study will test the new CTA technique on 400 patients having a TIA so as to
map their stroke.
    "Once we analyze the data, we'll be able to predict which patients are at
a higher risk of having a second stroke," says Dr. Coutts. "With an accessible
and non-invasive technology such as the CT/CTA, we're likely to have a
significant impact on preventing major strokes in urban and rural Alberta."
    "We are proud to support Canadian researchers, such as Dr. Coutts, who
are combining their efforts to develop new scanning techniques to rapidly
diagnose stroke in at-risk individuals," says Dr. Peter Liu, Scientific
Director for the CIHR Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health. "Since
50,000 strokes occur in Canada each year, it's crucial to focus on better
methods to prevent such a devastating health problem."
    AstraZeneca has a long-standing tradition of supporting innovative
research to create better treatments for an array of illnesses including
cardiovascular disease. "We're excited to be part of this promising new
diagnostic tool that has the potential to improve the outcome of patients
affected by stroke," says Catriona McMahon, Vice President, Medical Affairs,
AstraZeneca Canada. "Given that stroke is the third leading cause of death in
Canada, it's crucial that we support outstanding researchers such as Dr.
Shelagh Coutts."
    The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has funded researchers across
Canada for over 50 years. Every year, the Foundation presents grants, awards
and scholarships to leading stroke and heart disease researchers who are
committed to reducing and eliminating the effects of stroke and heart disease.
    "Stroke places a tremendous emotional and financial burden on affected
families and a huge financial cost to our society; in fact, the cost of stroke
on the Canadian economy is approximately 2.7 billion dollars each year," says
Brown. "Most stroke patients are hospitalized for months and undergo a battery
of tests and treatments - relearning how to walk, eat and speak. Canadians
spend a total of 3 million days in hospital because of stroke."

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, a volunteer-based health
charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their
impact through the advancement of research and its applications, the promotion
of healthy living and advocacy.

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of
Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new
scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health,
more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian
health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and
support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

    AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the
research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription
medicines and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the
world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of US$ 31.6
billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience,
respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines. For more information
about AstraZeneca, please visit:

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview with Dr. Coutts:
Natalie St-Denis, Media and External Relations Manager, Heart and Stroke
Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, (403) 781-1975,; Katy
Devine, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Heart and Stroke Foundation of
Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, (403) 781-1976,; David Coulombe,
CIHR Media Relations, (613) 941-4563,

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