Heart and Stroke Foundation puts heart rehab on the line

    QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Teleconferencing to reduce the risk
of heart disease is setting a whole new tone for patients and physicians.
    Heart and Stroke Foundation researchers are ringing in the changes on
cardiac care in areas with fewer doctors.
    "With today's revolution in telephone-based and e-based technologies, the
sky's the limit for reducing risk factors and giving a boost to heart health
without overtaxing community resources," Dr. Rob Nolan told the Canadian
Cardiovascular Congress 2007, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and
the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
    Foundation researcher Dr. Nolan reported on a clinical trial involving
680 high risk participants from three sites in Ontario - Sudbury, Grey-Bruce,
and Toronto.
    Patients ran the gamut of risk factors: 27.6 per cent already had
coronary artery disease; 70.9 per cent had high blood pressure; 68.7 per cent
had cholesterol problems; 52.1 per cent had diabetes; 13.7 per cent smoked;
and 86.4 per cent were overweight or obese.
    The average age of participants was 59 years, and they were evenly
divided between men and women.
    "Compared to the standard treatment - risk factor feedback, handout
materials, and information about community programs - we found that
telephone-based counselling in groups of six to eight patients was highly
effective at promoting a heart healthy lifestyle," said Dr. Nolan.
    The teleconferencing subjects received six weekly sessions lasting one
and a half hours. The same people met at the same time every week using the
same 1-800 number.
    "They all felt this contributed to the development of a culture that
promoted heart health," said Dr. Nolan.
    "Teleconferencing etiquette was not a problem. Ground rules were
established and everyone agreed about the input they would offer. Personal
identification of comments remained private but they were encouraged to share
their perspectives on lifestyle change with other conference members.
    Sessions were moderated by healthcare professionals, thoroughly trained
in supporting individual motivation to begin and maintain lifestyle change,
regardless of their initial stage of readiness. They also facilitated comments
that would help group members build and provide support for their lifestyle
    People were encouraged to talk about their strengths and challenges for
behaviour change. At the end of the programme all participants showed a
significant reduction of their risk factors.
    "Everyone was disappointed that we finished. Our results indicated that
participants learned behavioural strategies that supported both a heart
healthy lifestyle and an improved quality of life. Overall, it was judged to
be a very positive experience," said Dr. Nolan.
    The potential long term benefit is that telephone - or e-based
technologies can be used to improve heart health in high risk communities.
According to published surveys, for example, Sudbury and Grey-Bruce have a
higher prevalence of risk factors and mortality related to heart disease
compared to other areas.

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

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (www.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.

For further information:

For further information: or interviews, contact the CCC 2007 Media
Office at (418) 649-5215 (Oct 21-24) or Marie-Christine Garon, Massy-Forget
Public Relations, (514) 842-2455, ext. 23, mcgaron@mfrp.com; Congress
information and media registration at www.cardiocongress.org; after October
24, 2007: Jane-Diane Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, (613)
569-4361, ext 273, jfraser@hsf.ca

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