Courtois Cardiovascular Biorepository

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is any condition that affects the structure and/or function of the heart. There are different types of conditions. Some of the most common are:

  • disease of the blood vessels (known as coronary artery disease);
  • disease of the valves (known as valvular disease);
  • disease of the heart muscle (known as cardiomyopathy);
  • heart rhythm problems (known as arrythmias); and
  • heart disease that you are born with (known as congenital heart disease).
What are examples of cardiovascular risk factors?

There are several examples of risk factors that lead to heart disease and stroke.

There are risk factors that can be controlled by simply changing your lifestyle and habits. These risks include:

  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Stress
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol and drug use
  • Unhealthy weight

There are also medical conditions that you may have been diagnosed with that are risk factors. Some of these conditions include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm)
  • Sleep apnea

And, there are risk factors that you cannot control, such as your:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Family and medical history
  • Ethnicity

Remember, prevention is key to decreasing your risk of developing cardiovascular heart disease. Be active, eat healthy, and do not smoke!

Why is nutrition important?

Our nutrition is critical because every meal we eat provides us with the nutrients (e.g., proteins, vitamins and minerals) that we require to survive. A healthy diet increases energy and improves our mood. It also controls weight and can reduce the risk of certain diseases.

It is recommended that individuals follow “Canada’s Food Guide – Eating Well.” This guide allows you to make smart food choices from the different food groups. A well-balanced healthy diet helps fuel your body, enjoy the activities you love, complete everyday tasks and achieve overall good health.


Why would researchers want to study my blood?

Researchers often study the blood of people with a medical condition and compare it to the blood from people who do not have this condition. Researchers will use your samples, along with samples from thousands of other patients, to look for ways to prevent, diagnose, and/or treat health problems. Your blood can help researchers make discoveries that can advance medicine and improve treatments.

How long will my blood be stored?

Your blood samples will be stored for as long as the research team continues to conduct research studies. The samples will be stored in freezers to preserve blood cells that will remain intact for many years.

What does “storing my data on the cloud” mean?

Storing your data “on the cloud” means that all your “coded” data (no identifier) that we collect will be kept and saved off-site (not at the MUHC), in a remote storage system, which is accessed via the internet. The data is maintained, managed, backed up and made available ONLY to our research team members who are responsible for managing the data.

Your data will be hosted in a commercial cloud located in Montreal, which follows all Canadian legal requirements in terms of personal information protection.

How long will my data be stored?

The data will be kept for as long as the research is ongoing at the McGill University Health Centre.

Will I receive my data?

You will receive your INTERHEART score which categorizes you as low, medium or high risk of developing heart disease in the future.

Because this is a research study, we require data from numerous participants, such as yourself, to be able to perform our analysis and define individual signatures. Study updates will be available on the website.

What is the goal of these scientific databases?

A scientific database is used to store and share research information. To speed up research and validate new discoveries, it is often helpful for researchers to share information among each other and to compare data from other studies. By sharing information, researchers can learn even more about human health and disease.

What is a “biorepository”?

Our biorepository is a collection of biological samples (e.g., blood/tissue) medical images (e.g., heart scans), and medical information. This collection is called the Courtois Cardiovascular Biorepository and will assist with future cardiovascular research.

What is “DNA”?

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.

DNA is a molecule that contains all the genetic information transmissible from one generation to the next. It provides a series of instructions that determines the unique characteristics of an individual, such as one’s eye colour or blood group. For the purpose of this biorepository, your DNA will be obtained from your blood sample.

What are “genes”?

Genes are segments of DNA that have the information required to make the body work. For example, they provide instructions to build all the proteins that make our body function. Genes carry information that is passed on to future generations e.g., your children. Genes essentially define who you are.

What is microbiome?

The body is composed of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on and inside the human body (e.g., in your stomach and on our skin). A microbiome is all the genetic material found in all these microbes.

These bacteria are extremely important as they help protect us against disease, help build our immunity, digest food, produce certain vitamins and keep us healthy. It will be studied through stool samples.

What is an MRI?

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a non-invasive (meaning no needles or catheters required) imaging method that produces a 3-D image of your body without damaging radiation. This procedure can produce an image of your heart, carotid arteries and your brain.

What if something bad if found?

If, during the study, your scans or blood tests reveal a serious, life-threatening concern, you and your treating physician will be contacted and informed by phone. As these tests are done as part of a research study, they will need to repeat certain tests in a clinic or hospital. The specialist will then make recommendations on how to best manage the issue.