Canada is heart sick and must act now: Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan unveiled

    Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is Canada's No.1 killer
    and public health threat, costing the economy more than  $22 billion
    annually: Strategy and Action Plan is road map to Building a Heart
    Healthy Canada

    OTTAWA, Feb. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada now has its first comprehensive
Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan to help Canadians prevent and care for
cardiovascular diseases, Canada's No.1 public health threat. The Canadian
Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan (CHHS-AP): Building a Heart Healthy
Canada and Realizing our Vision, were released today by Dr. Eldon R. Smith,
Chair of the CHHS-AP Steering Committee. Also participating in the release
were the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of Health, Dr. David
Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and representatives of the
lead organizations in the Strategy development.
    "Canada is heart sick - and we urgently need to do something about it. As
a nation we already have a strategy for cancer, diabetes, and lung disease,
but until now, did not have a comprehensive strategy for the number one killer
and public health threat in the country - heart disease and stroke," said Dr.
Eldon R. Smith. "The Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan is a road
map for improving the heart health of Canadians from prevention to patient
care. Our recommendations are relevant to all sectors of society, individuals,
governments and the private sector. We have developed a whole-of-Canada
approach to engage Canadians where they learn, live, work, and play. It's time
to act."
    Nine out of 10 Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor
for cardiovascular disease - and the likelihood that members of our Aboriginal
and indigenous communities will develop heart disease or stroke is nearly
double that of other Canadians. The CHHS-AP outlines six key recommendations:

    - Creating heart-healthy environments
    - Helping Canadians lead healthier lives
    - Ending the cardiovascular disease crisis within aboriginal communities
    - Continuing to reform health care with improved delivery of patient-
      centred services
    - Building the knowledge infrastructure - such as improved surveillance,
      electronic medical records - to enhance prevention and care and more
      research into vascular diseases.
    - Developing the right number of health care service providers with the
      right education and skills.

    Building a Heart Healthy Canada and Realizing our Vision include
achievable benchmarks that will lead to significant benefits to the overall
health of Canadians and to the economy. Benchmarks and expected results
include the following:

    By 2020:

    - Decrease annual cardiovascular disease deaths by 25%
    - Bring cardiovascular diseases burden among Aboriginal and indigenous
      peoples in line with other Canadians
    - Decrease hypertension in adults by 32%
    - Decrease hospitalizations for treatment of both heart failure and acute
      stroke by 25%
    - Decrease in-hospital mortality rate from heart attacks by 32% and from
      stroke by 25%
    - Decrease the smoking rate by 25%

    By 2015 (in partnership with other strategies and initiatives):

    - 20% more Canadians eating at least five servings of vegetables and
      fruit per day
    - 20% more physically-active Canadians
    - 20% fewer obese or overweight adults
    - 35% fewer obese children

    The estimated cost of implementing the Strategy is approximately $100
million per year for seven years. CHHS-AP financial forecasting identifies
significant long term savings to the economy: a decrease of approximately $7.6
billion in direct costs of cardiovascular care and $14.6 billion in indirect
costs by 2020.
    "We now know that up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke
are preventable," said Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of
Canada, one of the three lead organizations participating in the development
and release of the Strategy. "The CHHS-AP will allow us to focus more on
prevention, among other key areas, and tackle this health challenge head-on."
    "The practical recommendations in the CHHS-AP for health system reform
with development and enhancement of chronic disease management models will
lead to more effective and timely care for patients where and when it is
needed," added Dr. Charles Kerr, President of the Canadian Cardiovascular
Society, a lead organization involved in developing the Strategy.
    "CIHR applauds the release of Canada's first comprehensive Heart Health
Strategy and Action Plan," said Dr. Peter Liu, Scientific Director of the
Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health at the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research (CIHR). "The creation and sharing of new knowledge is critical
to a better understanding of cardiovascular disease, allowing earlier
diagnosis, and also treating and preventing it more effectively. It creates
opportunities for Canadians not only as research leaders, but also innovators
who can transform new discoveries into tools and products that create jobs and
strengthen our economy."
    "Preventable cardiovascular diseases are robbing families of their loved
ones and is costing our society and our economy billions, "concluded Dr. Eldon
Smith. "It's up to everyone, from policy makers to individual Canadians to
make the changes we need to build a heart healthy Canada."

    The Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan grew out of a 2005
Private Member's Bill in the House of Commons proposed by Member of Parliament
Steven Fletcher. In 2006, the Government of Canada announced $2.5 million in
funding for the Strategy, which led to the appointment of the 29-member
Steering Committee to develop the plan. The CHHS-AP Steering Committee
developed its recommendations after a two-year process of review and analysis
of existing research, as well as consultations with more than 1500
stakeholders and experts from across Canada and internationally including
citizens, health care providers, aboriginal leaders, and the business
community. Six theme working groups of experts reviewed the available evidence
and contributed to forming the final recommendations.

    For further information and a link to Building a Heart Healthy Canada and
Realizing our Vision, visit the CHHS-AP website at

For further information:

For further information: Marie-France MacKinnon, Bluesky Strategy Group,
(613) 241-3512 ext. 229,; Lisa Crawford,
Bluesky Strategy Group, (613) 241-3512 ext. 224, (613) 218-2481,

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