Stanley McKee didn’t have a heart attack — he just couldn’t catch his breath.

“Oftentimes you don’t know you may have a heart condition,” said McKee, 74, who is now living with diastolic heart failure. “I wouldn’t be here at all. I had a valve that failed — I would have never have known.”

McKee’s only indication the valve carrying blood to his lungs had failed was shortness of breath.

Alberta HEART?(Heart Failure Etiology And Analysis Research Team), a group of researchers from the University of Alberta and University of Calgary, is looking for volunteers that have had heart complications in hopes of better treating patients.

According to Dr. Jason Dyck, the group’s co-director, there are approximately 80,000 Albertans with heart failure. Between 40 and 50 per cent suffer from diastolic heart failure, which means the heart becomes stiff and can’t relax after each heartbeat.

“It affects one to two per cent of all adult Albertans. Hospitalization is a critical issue, and it also includes a high risk of death,” said researcher Dr. Justin Ezekowitz.

He added the group is looking for patients with known heart failure or heart disease.