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April 15, 2021


In 1990, 20-year-old rower Heather Cartwright was at the peak of her athletic powers. But as she crossed the finish line during a race that summer, she collapsed and nearly died. The cause? Arrhythmogenic right-ventricle cardiomyopathy, or ARVC - a rare, hereditary disease that can cause sudden cardiac death. Many die not knowing they have it. But thanks to SickKids researchers - and supporters like Heather and her family - a new test can detect this often-invisible disease.


Heather Cartwright (third from the right) with her Western University rowing crew after winning the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in August 1990. Six weeks later at a race in Peterborough, she collapsed and nearly died from a severe cardiac event. It was her final competitive race.

L-R: Brian, Meredith and Heather Cartwright. Heather and Meredith have ARVC. Brian is tested yearly and remains in the clear. Together, they fund ARVC research spanning SickKids and Toronto General Hospital.

Meredith's daughter Brooke Darling-Cartwright has been an athlete most of her life and swam competitively as a kid. Because of her family history, Brooke is tested yearly for ARVC, and has been cleared to play rugby, which is safer for her heart than high-endurance sports, like rowing and swimming. Today, she's on the varsity rugby team at Queen's University.

Scientific Contributors

  • Diptendu Chatterjee
  • Meena Fatah
  • Deniz Akdis
  • Danna Spears
  • Tamara T Koopmann
  • Kirti Mittal
  • Muhammad A Rafiq
  • Bruce M Cattanach
  • Qili Zhao
  • Jeff S Healey
  • Michael J Ackerman
  • Johan Martijn Bos
  • Yu Sun
  • Jason T Maynes
  • Corinna Brunckhorst
  • Argelia Medeiros-Domingo
  • Firat Duru
  • Ardan M Saguner


Generous Donors

ARVC Research

  • Meredith Cartwright
  • Heather Cartwright
  • Brian Cartwright
  • HSBC Bank Canada
  • Labatt Family
  • Heart & Stroke Foundation
  • Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research
  • Wes and MaryLou Carter


Thank you to all our anonymous, monthly, and unrestricted giving donors who support the highest priority needs at SickKids, including breakthrough research like this.



This published study reveals the astounding finding that points to new therapeutic target for ARVC.

Dr. Hamilton’s ARVC discovery also sheds light on cardiac death among boxer dogs.



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About the Host: Hannah Bank

As a SickKids Foundation writer, Hannah works closely with world-renowned SickKids scientists, physicians, and researchers, turning dense medical jargon into engaging content about the latest research and treatments for kids. She’s inspired by the hope and perseverance of young patients and their families, a fantastic team of colleagues, and her three young girls at home.

Broken Hearts