Pauley family’s $5 million gift will support research and care for those with cardiac arrhythmia

“It pleases me to support the center’s research and innovation in the area of cardiac arrhythmia, whereby their discoveries will continue to improve lives in our community,” said Stanley Pauley.

From left: Greg Hundley, Stanley Pauley, and Kenneth Ellenbogen.
Greg Hundley, M.D. and Kenneth Ellenbogen, M.D. stand alongside Stanley Pauley (center), a former heart center patient who oversees the Pauley Family Foundation. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

A generous donation from the Pauley Family Foundation will help the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center address urgent unmet needs in the management of cardiac arrhythmia – a condition that affects more than 4 million Americans and manifests in harmful irregular heartbeats. 

The $5 million gift will support the next evolution of comprehensive treatments for patients with this condition. “The gift will fund the equipment necessary to diagnose and treat arrhythmia disorders, one of the major adverse consequences of cardiovascular disease,” said Greg Hundley, M.D., director of the Pauley Heart Center. 

“It pleases me to support the center’s research and innovation in the area of cardiac arrhythmia, whereby their discoveries will continue to improve lives in our community,” said Stanley Pauley, a former heart center patient who oversees the Pauley Family Foundation along with his wife, Dorothy and daughter Katharine Pauley Hickok. In 2006, the foundation gave its first $5 million gift to the VCU heart center, which was later renamed the Pauley Heart Center.

Under the direction of Kenneth Ellenbogen, M.D, chair of the Division of Cardiology and director of clinical cardiac electrophysiology and pacing in the Pauley Heart Center, VCU Health has gained international recognition in the management of heart disease related to harmful heart rhythms. Those that are irregular, too slow or too fast can increase mortality, reduce quality of life and limit daily activities.

Stanley Pauley.
Stanley Pauley, a former heart center patient whose Pauley Family Foundation is a longtime supporter of VCU Health. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

As the population ages, atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate, is increasingly common. Ventricular dysrhythmia, a disturbance in the electrical activity of the heart’s lower chambers, is an additional concern for those with existing heart disease. 

The $5 million gift will help VCU Health researchers and clinicians perfect their diagnoses, and develop and deliver innovative therapies to cure adverse heart rhythms in an effective, cost-efficient manner. Specifically, the funds will help expand imaging in the field of electrophysiology, Hundley said. The new imaging devices will allow physicians to see precisely where – and most importantly why – the electrical issues in the heart are originating so they can be ablated or defibrillated. 

Plans include acquiring clinical and noninvasive blood pressure monitoring equipment whose advanced technology will enable Ellenbogen and his team to tackle a range of cardiac procedures. In addition, four handheld echo machines will be purchased, which will help clinicians make bedside diagnoses.

The gift also plans to fund a research operating room in the Cottrell Surgical Innovation Suite and outfit the Pauley Heart Center Imaging Clinic with an advanced cardiac MRI scanner and CT scanner, expanding non-ionizing radiation (or X-ray) imaging capabilities. The ability to provide cardiac imaging to patients with implanted devices will allow VCU Health to more efficiently diagnose and treat diseases such as atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, aorta aneurysm, heart valve disease and cardiac tumors.

Previous gifts from the Pauley Family Foundation are helping VCU Health stay at the forefront of cardiac care nationally. The recent purchase of a 3T MRI scanner brought the latest technology to VCU Medical Center and filled a critical need in cardiac imaging regarding management of patients with coronary heart disease and heart failure. From this investment, Pauley has increased the number of cardiac MRIs by 95% in the first year and prevented at least 87 heart attacks. Additionally, with the funds, five researchers were recruited to develop and test innovations toward management of patients with coronary heart disease and heart failure.    

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