Lemieux Innovation and Research Fund at AHN Cardiovascular Institute

Mario Lemieux Foundation, Highmark Health Establish Research Fund in the Division of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Allegheny Health Network

In September of 2019, the Mario Lemieux Foundation made a $1 million gift with matching funds from Highmark Health to establish the Division of Cardiac Electrophysiology (EP) at Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute.  The $2 million investment will support medical research and the development of innovative therapies and technologies for heart rhythm disorders, a cause close to the heart of Mario Lemieux.

“Our mission is to create programs that improve the lives of western Pennsylvanians and to collaborate with organizations who share that commitment,” said Tom Grealish, president of the Mario Lemieux Foundation. “Allegheny Health Network’s Cardiovascular Institute is nationally recognized for its expertise in the treatment of heart and vascular disease, and we are excited to help further enhance its capabilities in the specialized care of heart rhythm disorders.”

In the United States, Afib is the most common heart rhythm disorder affecting more than six million people. The condition occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart quiver out of sync with the lower chambers causing less blood to be circulated throughout the body, elevating a patient’s risk of heart failure and stroke.

The funding will help further establish AHN’s EP program as a center for innovative research into the cause and treatment of heart rhythm disorders with a particular focus on minimally invasive therapies for Afib. The funds will also support the use of advanced data systems to develop predictive algorithms that promote more efficient and effective care pathways for patients with cardiac arrhythmias.

AHN’s EP program has long been at the forefront of innovative techniques and technologies for treating heart rhythm disorders and similar heart conditions. Led by Amit Thosani, MD, director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Division, the program was the first in the region to perform zero-fluoroscopy ablation to treat Afib and other heart rhythm abnormalities, greatly improving the safety of a common procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to stabilize an irregular heartbeat. In collaboration with the Network’s advanced heart failure and cardiac surgery teams, the electrophysiology program was also a first in the region to perform mapping and ablation of ventricular tachycardia at the time of open heart surgery.

 “Exceptional clinical care and pioneering expertise in the study and treatment of complex cardiovascular disease have been a hallmark of our Network, and its hospitals, for more than a century,” said George Magovern, MD, chair, AHN Cardiovascular Institute. “Patients with heart rhythm disorders in particular can be assured that the scope of resources available to them at Allegheny Health Network is second to none.”

Dr. Thonsani with his patient Jim Cimino