A new twist on 'public' health - leading researcher calls for novel
approaches to stroke research, prevention, and treatment

QUEBEC CITY, June 7 /CNW Telbec/ - To cope with the projected growth in the incidence of strokes in Canada, the public may need to take on roles traditionally performed by healthcare specialists, according to a leading Canadian stroke researcher.

Dr. Vladimir Hachinski, an internationally recognized researcher and editor-in-chief of the journal Stroke, opened the first Canadian Stroke Congress with a call to the country's stroke specialists to work across disciplines and outside the medical community to further our knowledge and understanding of stroke. "We need a new approach to get ready to meet the 'tsunami' of strokes that is coming as the population ages and our risk factors increase," says Dr. Hachinski.

According to Hachinski, this could include vital new roles for trained members of the public to support health specialists - for example, as "buddies" who support those at risk of strokes in leading healthier lives. Dr. Hachinski notes that this approach has been successful in areas like weight loss and addiction counseling. "It's time to think outside of doctor's offices and hospitals, and look at new ways we can prevent and manage strokes," he says.

Dr. Hachinski also noted the need to bring new researchers into the stroke picture, and bring specialties like pediatrics and geriatrics together. "Is brain degeneration the exact reverse of brain development? I think that's a question worth examining," says Hachinski. "We talk about 'last developed, first lost' - that complex skills like name and word recognition which we develop last as children are often the first lost after stroke or the onset of dementia. Working with experts who study early brain development could give us clues about how to prevent later brain damage."

This cross-fertilization could also help us understand the links between different forms of vascular disease, including heart disease, stroke, and many kinds of kidney disease, and how they affect conditions like diabetes, dementia, and macular degeneration.

"We can expand the impact of our research investments by helping experts in these fields work together and share vital knowledge," says Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Along with other partners in the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan, the Foundation has called on the federal government to provide funding to support a network of vascular researchers across the country.

"We have an excellent but relatively small research community spread across a vast country," noted Dr. Antoine Hakim, scientific director and CEO of the Canadian Stroke Network. "Establishing research networks and important forums like the Canadian Stroke Congress are essential to advancing our ability to protect the health of more Canadians."

The Canadian Stroke Congress is a joint initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Stroke Network, and the Canadian Stroke Consortium.

Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CSN policy or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Stroke Network make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

The Canadian Stroke Network (canadianstrokenetwork.ca) includes more than 100 of Canada's leading scientists and clinicians from 24 universities who work collaboratively on various aspects of stroke. The network, which is headquartered at the University of Ottawa, also includes partners from industry, the non-profit sector, provincial and federal governments. The Canadian Stroke Network, one of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence, is committed to reducing the physical, social and economic impact of stroke on the lives of individual Canadians and on society as a whole.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

SOURCE Heart and Stroke Foundation

For further information: For further information: or interviews, contact The CSC 2010 MEDIA OFFICE (JUNE 7 and 8) at (418) 649-5232; OR contact Hémisphère Relations Publiques, Marie-José Bégin, (514) 994-0802, mj_begin@videotron.ca; France Gaignard, (514) 616-7705; Congress information and media registration is at www.strokecongress.ca; After June 8, 2010, contact: Jane-Diane Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, (613) 569-4361 ext 273, jfraser@hsf.ca

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