Heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide and the leading cause of premature death in Canada, yet women are often understudied, undertreated, and underdiagnosed.
This September, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, with the support of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) and its Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre (CWHHC), will launch an exciting 30-day campaign promoting the heart health of Canadian women by encouraging their participation in daily half-hour physical activity challenges.
The UOHI Foundation’s JUMP IN for Women’s Heart Health campaign will invite participants to share photos and videos of themselves engaging in physical activity – be it as disciplined and demanding as high-intensity interval training or as light and carefree as running through a lawn sprinkler – to social media using the hashtag #JumpIn4HeartHealth.
Funds raised through registration fees (there’s a $20 cost to “jump in”) will go to support important research, education and programming of women’s heart health initiatives at the UOHI.
Women’s heart health topics in The Beat
With September just around the corner, The Beat’s editorial staff invites you to look back at a recent selection of articles about women’s heart health. Our hope is this selection of stories helps you understand what makes women’s hearts different, appreciate why research and education are essential for improving cardiovascular care and outcomes for women, and think about what needs to change to ensure women in this country are as well-informed about their heart health and as well-cared for as possible.
The CWHHC and its National Alliance of women’s heart health advocates across the country called on Canadians to wear red clothing on February 13 as part of Wear Red Canada 2020, a national awareness campaign aimed at promoting women’s cardiovascular health. To learn more, visit www.yourheart.ca.
“By wearing red on February 13, you are taking part in a movement to engage Canadian communities in a meaningful conversation about women’s heart health,” said the UOHI’s Head of the Division of Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation, and Chair of the CWHHC, Dr. Thais Coutinho.
Research suggests women fare worse than men when it comes to their chances of long-term survival after major heart surgery.
“There exists a significant association between female sex and long-term mortality after a patient undergoes a heart procedure,” said UOHI Staff Anesthesiologist Dr. Louise Sun. “More specifically, our study found women experience higher rates of death than men after having a bypass procedure, and combined bypass/mitral valve surgery.”
Following a presentation at the 11th Annual Ottawa Conference: State-of-The-Art Clinical Approaches to Smoking Cessation in 2019, Natalie Hemsing, a research associate at the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health in Vancouver, BC, shared four components for clinicians that she said may help women quit smoking for good.
“We need to approach smoking cessation for women differently than we do for men because the challenges women face when trying to quit, and their reasons for smoking in the first place, are different than men,” she said.
A white paper published in Circulation back in September of 2018 proposed several novel strategies for the improved future of heart health centres serving women. Dr. Thais Coutinho said most of the strategies deemed essential in the paper were already in place at the Heart Institute at the time of the paper’s publication.
Researchers sought to examine more closely the sex differences in heart failure incidence, mortality rates, hospitalizations and comorbidities in all Ontario residents who were diagnosed with heart failure in an ambulatory setting over a five-year period.
“Our analysis reveals that heart failure-associated morbidity and mortality remain high especially in women in this current era,” writes Dr. Louise Sun, the principal investigator behind the 2018 study. “Our findings introduce the need for further research to focus on sex differences in health-seeking behaviour, medical therapy and response to therapy to improve outcomes in women.”