DR. JONATHAN LEIPSIC - DIVISION OF RADIOLOGY, HEAD, ICVHEALTH CLINICAL LEAD, CANADA RESEARCH CHAIR IN ADVANCED CARDIAC IMAGING

Your research is mainly focused on cardiac imaging and its role in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. What do you enjoy most about your career in radiology?

“I really have a passion about trying to innovate using advanced cardiac imaging to improve outcomes in structural heart disease interventions—particularly Transcatheter aortic and now Transcatheter mitral valve procedures.”

Dr. Leipsic’s other research interests include understanding how heart attacks occur, identifying plaque build-up in arteries using CT, and trying to understand the connections between coronary artery disease and pulmonary diseases, especially in the case of COPD exacerbations. He would ultimately like to improve diagnostic algorithms for the workup of stable angina.

How did you get started in this career? How did you pick radiology as a discipline?

“…I was really debating between becoming a internist or doing radiology. I didn’t find that I necessarily enjoyed examining patients physically that much. I really enjoy more the diagnostic dilemmas and discussions around diseases and I felt that cardiopulmonary imaging still allowed me to do that.”

How do you envision your role contributing to ICVHealth?

“I’d like to think that I could contribute in a number of ways: one, generating research ideas, and two, providing a good sounding board for clinical questions to identify good research questions.“

Dr. Leipsic remarks that determining feasibility of research projects as part of a team is important, given finite resources. He believes that as a team, researchers can work together to determine which questions to tackle in order to best utilize funding and to optimally improve the clinical outcome and overall health of the population of BC.

Tell us one potential strategy that you envision improving cardiovascular care in BC.

A potential strategy to improve cardiovascular care is to strategize on earlier detection of high-risk plaque features and at-risk patients using screening tools like CT. Additionally, an earlier and more focused intervention on those most likely to derive benefits would improve outcomes.

Is that possible right now? And if so, how accurate is it?

“No one is suggesting we should be screening now, but we do have growing data that cardiac CT can be very helpful in identifying risk –risk of dying, risk of myocardial infarction, risk of cardiac death.”

Dr. Leipsic suggests that identifying at-risk patients is the first step. The next step would be to determine which treatments would help modify that risk. These answers must be derived by randomized controlled trials.

Popular beliefs often tell us that radiation exposure from CT is harmful. To what extent is this true?

Radiation dosage in CT scans has seen an immense reduction by a factor of 15 between 2004 and 2014. It is now at a very low and tolerable level with current technology. The median effect dose is 2 msv—this is below the annual background radiation someone would experience living in Vancouver.

Are there any favourite sports or hobbies you engage in?

He spends his free time with his family, but also enjoys running on the side.