Video: Heart and Stroke Foundation Report and survivor video with Olympian Isabelle Brasseur
Heart and Stroke Foundation Report: More Canadians than ever surviving heart attacks and stroke, but not enough are maintaining critical changes to prevent subsequent events
A new Foundation survey shows that although some survivors are making
healthy changes, many need more support to face the challenge of
recovery so they can thrive to the fullest
OTTAWA, Feb. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - According to the new Heart and Stroke Foundation 2014 Report on the Health of Canadians, there are more Canadians surviving a heart attack or stroke than ever
before. But, the Report also showed that a major scare, like a heart
attack or stroke, doesn't always lead to survivors being able to make
and maintain potentially life-saving behaviour changes.
Over the last 60 years the death rate has declined more than 75 per cent
with nearly 40 per cent of this decrease occurring in the last decade.
This means that now, more than 90 per cent of Canadians who have a
heart attack and more than 80 per cent who have a stroke and make it to
the hospital will survive. Last year alone, there were 165,000
survivors of heart disease or stroke. While this is great news, and
certainly cause for celebration, much work remains to be done.
As part of the Report, the Foundation conducted a poll* of 2,000 heart
attack and stroke survivors (and loved ones who were able to answer on
their behalf), to learn about their health behaviours before and after
a heart attack or stroke. The poll revealed that when it comes to
physical activity, managing stress and maintaining a healthy weight,
survivors are struggling to make and maintain these important healthy
changes. Of those who needed to make these changes, more than 50 per
cent couldn't maintain the change or didn't try at all. And this is
despite the fact that six in 10 survivors equate surviving with being
given a second chance and no longer taking their health for granted.
"We cannot control all the factors that put us at risk for
cardiovascular disease, but there are healthy changes people can make
to largely prevent them from having a heart attack or stroke in the
first place, including eating a healthy diet, being physically active,
being smoke-free, managing stress and limiting alcohol consumption,"
says Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and
author of Heart Health for Canadians. "And for people living with cardiovascular disease, these healthy
behaviours are especially important and could prevent them from landing
back in the hospital. But we need more research, more education, and an
environment that supports these healthy behaviours."
Survivors Face Barriers to Change
The poll illustrates how survivors face many barriers in making and
maintaining changes, the biggest of which is related to motivation,
which is defined as a lack of interest, a feeling that the goals are
unrealistic and that there is too much change required all at once.
Lack of motivation can indicate anxiety, depression and a perceived
lack of control over the illness.
Heart disease and stroke can affect anyone. Even an athlete, like
Olympic figure skater Isabelle Brasseur, has been personally affected
and has lessons to share. "I know first-hand the importance of
maintaining heart healthy behaviours. I have a congenital heart
condition which has caused my heart to stop, so I have had to take
steps to control my health as best I could. I lost my father and my
father-in-law to heart disease, and my mother has suffered two strokes,
so I understand the pain that is associated with heart disease and
stroke. My best advice is to identify early on everything you can do
to reduce your risk and follow the advice of the Heart and Stroke
Foundation, which is working hard to keep Canadians healthy."
The good news, according to our poll, is that seven in 10 survivors feel
they are at least living a little healthier since their heart attack or
stroke. The areas where survivors report the most success in making and
maintaining healthy changes include eating healthier, quitting smoking
and reducing alcohol consumption. However, this also means that there
are many survivors who need more help to make healthy changes, or who
would benefit from assistance to get them started on a healthy path. In
fact, the poll showed that two in 10 feel their lifestyle has not
changed compared to before their event and one in 10 feel they are less
healthy than before their event.
In addition to motivation, the poll outlined that other barriers posing
challenges to survivors include:
Not understanding what changes need to be made or how to make them.
Challenges in physical or cognitive abilities since the event.
Financial barriers, such as the costs of healthier foods and being
Time constraints, including not enough time to exercise, or plan and
prepare healthy meals.
The poll also revealed the vital role that family and friends play in a
survivor's recovery. More than eight in 10 survivors feel that their
family support had a positive impact on them achieving a healthy
Nadia Bender, a 46 year-old fitness instructor and heart attack survivor
knows the importance of family in the recovery process. "I relied on my
family for so much during my recovery - from daily chores, to helping
out with my three kids - I simply didn't have the energy and stamina
for it all. Their support also helped with my mental health and kept my
stress levels in check, two important components of recovery."
Ensuring Canadians who experience a cardiac event or stroke survive is
paramount, but this is only the first step in what can be a long
journey back home, and back to a better state of health. Family support
can make a difference as can cardiac and stroke rehabilitation.
The Role of Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation plays a critical role in improving outcomes for heart
attack and stroke survivors. It is well established that cardiac
rehabilitation lowers mortality by as much as 25 per cent and improves
the health of those who participate by helping them make healthy
changes and stick to them. Rehabilitation programs provide support
directly linked to behaviour change related to controllable risk
"We know rehabilitation works. The number one benefit of rehabilitation
is that it keeps survivors surviving. It also makes people feel better,
improves their quality of life, and reduces hospital re-admissions as
well as costs to the healthcare system," says Dr. Neville Suskin,
Medical Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention
Program, St. Joseph's Health Care London, Ontario.
However, not all survivors who could benefit from rehab are able to
access a program. Evidence shows that only about one-third of cardiac
survivors who are eligible for rehabilitation are referred to a
program, and only 19 per cent of all stroke patients are discharged
from acute care to a rehabilitation facility.
Creating More Survivors
Although we've made great progress and have created more survivors than
ever before, there is more work to be done. We can't lose sight of the
fact that there are still 350,000 hospitalizations annually due to
heart disease and stroke. Each year about 50,000 new cases of heart
failure are diagnosed, 70,000 heart attacks occur, and 50,000 strokes
send Canadians to emergency rooms across the country. And there is
still room for improvement to help the 1.6 million people currently
living with heart disease and stroke recover to the fullest extent
"As a community we have learned so much over the years about heart
disease and stroke. We are proud that Foundation-funded research and
advocacy efforts have contributed to the decline in the death rate from
cardiovascular disease. This ranges from identifying the leading
modifiable risk factors, to developing better medications or procedures
and advocating for healthy public policies. We've come such a long way,
but we know our work is not done," says Bobbe Wood, President, Heart
and Stroke Foundation.
Heart Healthy Tips for All Canadians
Not all the factors that put Canadians at risk can be controlled but up
to 80 per cent of heart disease and stroke is preventable. Healthy
behaviours all Canadians can adopt to make health last include:
Eat a healthy diet. Follow the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide.
Be physically active. 30 minutes most days of the week is all it takes to start, and
Manage stress. Identify the source of your stress, talk to friends and family, and
take time for yourself.
Limit alcohol consumption. Women should limit themselves to no more than two drinks a day, to a
weekly maximum of 10; and men to three drinks a day to a weekly maximum
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save
lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive
to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day.
Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make
it happen. heartandstroke.ca
Broadcast video to support this story is available to download at http://cnw.pathfireondemand.com/viewpackage.action?packageid=761
*The poll was conducted online by Environics Research Group between
November 25 and December 3, 2013 with a sample of 2,010 Canadians.
Respondents were screened to identify those who had survived a heart
attack or stroke (n=465), or who had a living immediate family member
or very close friend who had a heart attack or stroke in the past 10
years (n=1,545). Those who were loved ones of a survivor were asked to
respond to questions about their perceptions of the survivor's
Video with caption: "Video: Heart and Stroke Foundation Report and survivor video with Olympian Isabelle Brasseur". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20140202_C6907_VIDEO_EN_36137.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20140202_C6907_PHOTO_EN_36137.jpg&clientName=Heart%20and%20Stroke%20Foundation&caption=Video%3A%20Heart%20and%20Stroke%20Foundation%20Report%20and%20survivor%20video%20with%20Olympian%20Isabelle%20Brasseur&title=HEART%20AND%20STROKE%20FOUNDATION%20%2D%20Heart%20and%20Stroke%20Foundation%20Report%3A%20More%20Canadians%20than%20ever%20surviving%20heart%20attacks%20and%20stroke%2C%20but%20not%20enough%20are%20maintaining%20critical%20changes%20to%20prevent%20subsequent%20events&headline=Heart%20and%20Stroke%20Foundation%20Report%3A%20More%20Canadians%20than%20ever%20surviving%20heart%20attacks%20and%20stroke%2C%20but%20not%20enough%20are%20maintaining%20critical%20changes%20to%20prevent%20subsequent%20events
Image with caption: "Isabelle Brasseur, Olympic figure skater and heart disease survivor with daughter Gabrielle. Isabelle has a congenital heart condition and says she knows first-hand the importance of maintaining healthy behaviours and encourages all Canadians to take their health to heart. (CNW Group/Heart and Stroke Foundation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140202_C6907_PHOTO_EN_36135.jpg
Image with caption: "Nadia Bender, a fitness instructor and heart attack survivor, with her children after completing a marathon. Rehab was such a key part of Nadia's recovery that she's now also become certified in cardiac rehabilitation so she can help others. (CNW Group/Heart and Stroke Foundation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140202_C6907_PHOTO_EN_36136.jpg
Audio with caption: "Heart and Stroke Foundation Report: More Canadians than ever surviving heart attacks and stroke, but not enough are maintaining critical changes to prevent subsequent events". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2014/02/02/20140202_C6907_AUDIO_EN_36139.mp3
SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation
For further information:
Heart and Stroke Foundation
613-569-4361 ext. 273