Video B-Roll via On-Demand and Satellite - Canada's Heart Health up in the Air says the 2008 Heart and Stroke Foundation Report Card on Canadians' Health

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    DATE OF FEED:  Monday, January, 28 2008
    TIME OF FEED:  11:30-12:00 PM ET
    CO-ORDINATES:  Anik F2 C
                   Transponder 1B
                   Audio subcarrier 6.2 and 6.8
                   Downlink frequency 3740 vertical
    TOC            CFA TX 1

    STORY SUMMARY: - Air pollution is now a year-long threat to the heart
health of Canadians, says the 2008 Heart and Stroke Foundation Report Card on
Canadians' Health. Yet a national poll by the Foundation has revealed that
only 13% of Canadians have made the connection between air pollution and
cardiovascular disease.
    Every year, there are approximately 6,000 additional deaths in Canada
because of short term exposure to air pollution, and research suggests that
69% of these deaths come in the form of cardio and cerebrovascular disease.
    "Since the early 1990s, a growing body of evidence from Canada, the U.S.
and Europe has documented increased rates of heart attack, and more
hospitalizations for serious heart diseases such as heart failure, and stroke,
after both short and long-term exposure to polluted air," says Dr. Beth
Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and cardiologist.
    According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, length of exposure is a
critical determinant of the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular disease
risk. Studies in different cities and countries have produced different
results, but research shows that every 10-microgram/m(3) increase in long-term
exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can increase the risk of dying
from heart disease and stroke, by as much as 76%. Even short-term exposure can
be dangerous. One study has reported that a PM 2.5 level as low as
20-microgram/m(3) can elevate the risk of heart attack within 24-hours by 69%.
    Short-term exposure is only the tip of the iceberg because no part of the
country is free from the long-term effects of bad air. Environment Canada
estimates that at least 30% of Canadians are being exposed to higher than
acceptable levels of fine particulates. Yet, between 2001 and 2005, there has
been no significant change in fine particulate pollution in Canada.

    Air Quality and Cardiovascular Risk
    Province              Highest 3-yr average 98th %ile            Grade:
                           PM2.5(*) (in microgram/m(3))           Impact on
                             observed in the province           heart health
                       2002       2003       2004       2005
    British Columbia     33         35         36         34     Interior: F
                                                                 Mainland: D
    Alberta              29         25         30         25          D
    Saskatchewan                  Data not available
    Manitoba             18         16         16         15          B
    Ontario              36         36         38         40          F
    Quebec               34         36         38         42          F
    New Brunswick        28         25         20         17          C
    Nova Scotia                   Data not available
    PEI                           Data not available
    Newfoundland        n/a         15         15         13          B
    & Labrador
                         Source: Environment Canada.

    (*)the term fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to
    tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns
    or less in diameter. These particles come from many different sources and
    large amounts also form in the atmosphere from gaseous air pollutants
    interacting with each other in the presence of sunlight and water. The
    Canada-wide Standard for PM2.5 is based upon the 98th percentile (%ile)
    among a year of 24-hour measurements. An area has not achieved the CWS if
    the average of three consecutive year's of 98th %iles is above
    30 microgram/m(3).

    Local air pollution can be derived from many different sources including
factories, cars, diesel trucks, power plants, windblown dust and smoke from
wood stoves and backyard burning. Its health effect is determined by the
concentration of different pollutants and the individual's general health. Air
pollution can also be transported in from long distances.
    "We can encourage Canadians to make lifestyle changes to reduce their
risk," says Stephen Samis, director of health policy for the Heart and Stroke
Foundation of Canada, "but air pollution is a pervasive and unavoidable health
risk for heart disease that all Canadians face - and most are unaware of its
short and long-term impact."
    "Poor air quality represents a particular challenge for our aging
population and those at increased risk of heart disease," says Dr. Abramson.
"It's ironic that people who are recovering from - or are trying to prevent -
heart disease by being physically active may actually be exposing themselves
to more risk on bad air days if they head outdoors to be active."

    Heart and Stroke Foundation Survey

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation surveyed a national representative sample
of 1,134 Canadians and found major discrepancies between people's knowledge of
the health effects of air pollution, and how that translated to personal
action. While almost two-thirds (63%) believe air quality has a major effect
on health, nearly the same number, six out of ten (61%), do not let smog
advisories affect what they do outdoors.
    Although Canadians seem to make the connection between pollution and some
major diseases, heart disease is grossly under-recognized. When asked to name
diseases affected by air pollution, eight out of ten (82%) named respiratory
diseases, three out of ten (34%) cancer, but only one out of ten (13%) heart
    It was only when air pollution was linked to smoking that Canadians
appeared to understand the risk: 68% strongly agreed with the statement that
"like smoking, air pollution is a risk for heart disease and stroke."

    Heart and Stroke Foundation Survey of Canadians
    Question                                                          Percent
    Name heart disease as a disease linked to air pollution (unaided)     13%
    Believe air quality has a major effect on the health of Canadians     63%
    Do not let smog advisories affect what they do outdoors               39%
    Check the air quality in index in their community from time to
     time or daily                                                        47%
    Results are considered accurate +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

    Part of the problem may be that many Canadians do not see air pollution
as affecting their communities. Six out of ten Canadians (64%) believe the
quality of air in their community is generally good to excellent, with the
rates being highest among those living in the Prairie provinces (84%),
Atlantic Canada (75%) and British Columbia (71%) and lowest in Quebec (59%)
and Ontario (53%). However, like smoking, there are no "safe" levels of air
pollution and all parts of the country are experiencing some degree of
increased risk. To make matters worse, Environment Canada has projected that
between 2000 and 2015, air pollution levels will increase in all regions of
the country.

    It's a winter- and rural-problem too

    In the Heart and Stroke Foundation survey, seven out of ten (69%)
Canadians thought air pollution tends to be worse during the summer. Only 3%
recognized that air pollution is a year-round problem.
    During the winter months, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces can be
sources of dangerous air pollution. Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are
responsible for 28% of fine particulate matter pollution in Canada; they can
also release other important pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and volatile
organic compounds.
    According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation survey, 44% of Canadians
living in communities of less than 10,000, report having a wood stove, pellet
stove or fireplace and of those, 70% say they use it daily or almost every day
during the winter.
    "If Canadians choose wood-heating as their heat source, they should
choose a stove that is approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or
by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are built according to
performance standards that aim at limiting harmful emissions," says Stephen

    Heart and Stroke Foundation Recommendations

    Community design, and how our "built environment" affects our physical
activity and use of different types of transportation (and therefore emissions
that contribute to pollution), is a critical piece of the puzzle. Information
just released from Statistics Canada indicates that Canadians are more
addicted to cars than ever. In 2007 the Heart and Stroke Foundation partnered
with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to launch a major $4.1 million
research initiative to study how community design affects physical activity
and, consequently, heart health.
    According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation poll, 95% of Canadians
strongly or somewhat agree that "the government should do more to reduce air
    "Environment Canada has made great strides by setting a Canada Wide
Standard for particulate matter pollution" says Stephen Samis. "However, it is
"now essential for our Governments to set policies that decrease emissions and
reduce air pollution. Increased investments in public transit within urban
centres, planning more neighbourhoods that encourage walking, and decreasing
Canadians' dependency on cars, among others, will not only address concerns
about the environment, but may ultimately reduce the burden on our healthcare
    The Foundation believes that governments can take action to reduce air
pollution and its impact on heart disease by:

    -   Rolling out the national Air Quality Health Index (based on the
        Toronto, Nova Scotia and British Columbia pilots) in all parts of the
        country to give all Canadians access to easy to understand
        information on daily air quality and clear recommendations on when
        and how to limit their exposure. The AQHI is a scale designed to help
        you understand what the air quality around you means to your health.

    -   Strengthening federal legislation governing air quality by including
        National Air Quality Standards to ensure that emission controls truly
        result in cleaner air

    -   Providing public awareness and incentive programs to encourage
        consumer and industry action to reduce air pollution

    -   Increasing investments in public transit within and between urban
        centres across the country, including investments in high speed rail
        in the Quebec City-Ottawa-Windsor corridor, and between Edmonton and

    -   Ensure that all wood burning stoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts
        for sale in Canada conform to the particulate emission requirements
        of the Canadian standard and are well labeled to indicate compliance
        with the standard.

    -   Allocating at least 7% of federal transportation-related
        infrastructure spending to active transportation infrastructure
        that facilitates walking and cycling, to reduce auto dependency and
        air pollution.

    Canadians who want to send a letter to their government representatives
on this issue will find a sample at

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation, 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.

    NOTE: This press release constitutes the Heart and Stroke Foundation's
    Annual Report on Canadians' Health - there is no separate report

    Journalists may join the Toronto press conference by dialing
1-800-733-7571 and asking for the Heart and Stroke Foundation Press

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