B.C. lags far behind other provinces on awareness of heart health in the young, doctors and heart health advocates say.

Fundraising for many heart health programs is falling short, people aren't aware of syndromes like sudden unexpected death syndrome, and help from the provincial government to put lifesaving devices in public buildings isn't coming, critics say.

"It's a life saved at the end of the day," said the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Sandy Barabe.

"How can you say how much that is worth?"

As many as 50 children are diagnosed with heart problems in this province each year. Some 40,000 Canadians are expected to die from sudden cardiac arrest in 2010.

B.C. needs a more concerted effort to be made in placing lifesaving devices like defibrillators in public places, said Barabe.

B.C.'s minister of healthy living says that she is focusing on CPR knowledge, and she will not pay more to put defibrillators in public buildings.

"I've heard about other incentive programs in other provinces, and right now that's not under consideration from our government," said Ida Chong.

Defibrillators are in public buildings in Burnaby and Chilliwack, according to Mediquest Technologies, a company that supplies and maintains defibrillators.

But many cities haven't explored putting defibrillators in rec centres, public buildings, and schools.

Compare that to Ontario, where the high-profile death of a boy from cardiac arrest during gym class prompted widespread fundraising, with the support of the Ontario government.

One native community in northern B.C. is showing the rest of the province how it's done, said heart specialist Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani.

One of his patients is Kayla Moore, a precocious four-year-old who is a member of the Gitxan Nation.

Through a genetic quirk, Long QT syndrome -- a condition that means her heart could stop without warning -- is 10 times more common in this area than in the rest of the province.

Community leaders and doctors are taking action, studying the population and screening people to determine whether they have the otherwise hard-to-detect condition.

"The community is working closely with health care professionals," said Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani. "They're preparing themselves. They have automated defibrillators."

Kayla Moore's parents say they're lucky that she was born in this part of B.C. -- because her chances of survival are much better up there.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and Mi-Jung Lee