Measha Brueggergosman Asks Canadians to Take Care of Their Hearts for the Ones They Love

Internationally-acclaimed Canadian soprano shares her heart health wake-up call and helps Becel®, founding sponsor of The Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, raise awareness of women's heart health

TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2012 /CNW/ - As mothers, wives, daughters, friends and pillars of their communities, many Canadian women are quick to put their own needs aside for the benefit of others. Whether it's caring for an aging parent, dropping everything for a sick child, or inspiring those around them to be and do their best, women are no strangers to self-sacrifice.  Yet while their hearts are in the right place, their heart health may not be - and as a result, one in three Canadian women die each year from heart disease and stroke1.

That's why Becel®, the founding sponsor of The Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, has partnered with award-winning Canadian opera singer Measha Brueggergosman to spread a potentially lifesaving message to help empower Canadian women to protect their heart health. Measha underwent emergency open-heart surgery in 2009 after a near brush with death due to a dissected aorta.

"Even though I spent a lot of time in my 20s trying to get and stay 'healthy' by losing weight, I completely neglected factors like blood pressure and high cholesterol.  As a result, I ended up in a scary emergency situation and now need to keep a close eye on my heart health for the rest of my life," said Brueggergosman. "So many women don't realize that if they don't look after their own hearts first, they might not be there to take care of the people they love. I hope my story reminds Canadian women to protect and cherish their heart health."

The facts are heartbreaking but true: heart disease and stroke is the #1 killer of women in Canada - and in 2008 alone, there were seven times more deaths among Canadian women from heart disease and stroke than from breast cancer2.

Know Your Number, Know Your Risk
A survey conducted by Becel® found that almost 70 per cent of Canadians - about 20 million people - don't know their own cholesterol number3. Yet it's estimated that as many as 10 million Canadian adults have a cholesterol level that is higher than the recommended target4.

"Knowing their cholesterol number is one easy step that all Canadians can take to help reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, since high blood cholesterol is a key risk factor for the disease," said Maria Ricupero, registered dietitian. "In fact, women can proactively reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke by as much as 80 per cent by making lifestyle changes and taking action to improve their health."

To help address this issue, Becel®, in its role as founding sponsor of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, is offering free cholesterol screening tests at eight malls and in more than 200 stores across the country during the month of February. Visit www.becel.ca  for more information about testing locations and to learn more about heart healthy living, or speak with a doctor about getting a cholesterol test.

Get pro.activ about Heart Health
Brueggergosman's family has also seen its share of heart issues.  In fact, her father had to undergo a quadruple bypass a few years ago, and there is a history of heart problems and diabetes in her family.  Her mother, Ann Gosman, is also now acutely aware of how lifestyle choices can impact heart health.

"My family has seen so much heartache - literally - over the past few years, and I can truly say from experience that the time is now for a wake-up call for Canadian women to start taking care of their heart health," said Gosman. "I want women to know that they should feel empowered when it comes to their heart health, because it is possible to help control this disease. Proper diet and exercise are priorities in my life, and I make sure to get my cholesterol checked on a regular basis."

Diet plays a critical role in heart health, and a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats may reduce the risk of heart disease.  Eating foods with plant sterols can also help significantly reduce cholesterol levels.

"Plant sterols can help lower blood cholesterol by partially blocking cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream," said Ricupero. "They're found naturally in vegetables, fruits and nuts, but it's challenging to get the amount recommended to lower cholesterol from these foods alone - so that's why foods with plant sterols can help."

One serving (two teaspoons) of Becel® pro.activ® calorie-reduced margarine with plant sterols provides 40 per cent of the daily amount of plant sterols shown to help lower cholesterol in adults.

For more information, visit www.becel.ca.

About The Heart Truth™ campaign
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth campaign is calling on women to put their own health first, make heart healthy lifestyle changes, recognize heart attack and stroke symptoms and seek prompt treatment. Heart disease and stroke is the # 1 killer of women in Canada, but most don't know it. Heart disease is not a "man's disease":  women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack or stroke. But by taking care of themselves and making incremental heart healthy lifestyle changes, women can add more years to their life and more life to their years. In fact, women can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 80 per cent by making lifestyle changes.  The Red Dress is the official symbol of The Heart Truth campaign. It represents women's courage, passion and their power for change as they share the truth with others and raise awareness about the importance of heart health. To find out more, visit www.thehearttruth.ca.

About Becel®
Becel® has always believed in the importance of caring for your heart. It's why Becel® margarine was created, and why the brand remains dedicated to educating Canadians about the importance of heart healthy living. Through its development of educational resources to help Canadians manage their heart health, its founding sponsorship of The Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, and in the development of products such as Becel® pro.activ® calorie-reduced margarine with plant sterols, the first food with plant sterols in Canada, Becel® maintains its commitment to heart health innovation and education. For more information, visit www.becel.ca.

About Unilever
Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with strong operations in more than 100 countries and sales in 180. With products that are used over two billion times a day around the world, we work to create a better future every day and help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others.  In Canada the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Becel, Ben & Jerry's, Bertolli, Breyers, Degree, Dove personal care products, Good Humor, Hellmann's, Klondike, Knorr,  Lipton, Nexxus, Noxzema, Popsicle, Q-Tips, Ragu, Skippy, St. Ives, TIGI, TRESemmé, and Vaseline.  All of the preceding brand names are registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies.  Unilever Canada employs more than 1,600 people generating approximately $1.4 billion in sales in 2011.  For more information, please visit www.unilever.ca.


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1 Statistics Canada.  Mortality Summary list of Causes, 2008.
2Statistics Canada. CVD - 34,909; Breast cancer - 4,955.  34,909 divided by 4,955 = 7.046. Per Stats Canada, November 2011.
3 A total of 1,521 Canadians over the age of 18 answered an online survey between December 6th and December 9th, 2010. The survey was conducted by Leger Marketing. For a copy of the survey results, please contact Edelman.
4 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483991/k.34A8/Statistics.htm Accessed October 11, 2011.)


SOURCE Unilever Canada Inc.

For further information:

Ashley Audrain / Alia Hassan
Edelman
ashley.audrain@edelman.comalia.hassan@edelman.com
416-849-1550 / 416-849-1306

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