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Preventing heart attacks and more

Introducing the Heart & Stroke coronary artery and vascular disease council

Coronary artery disease happens when the arteries in your heart are narrowed or blocked. It’s the most common kind of heart disease and causes most heart attacks as well as angina (chest pain). Vascular disease refers to abnormalities in blood vessels, which reduce blood flow and compromise the function of your heart.

Together these diseases can have devastating consequences. Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada.


Estimated number of heart attacks in Canada each year.

That’s why Heart & Stroke has identifiedcoronary artery and vascular disease as one of six disease areas where we see the greatest potential for impact (scroll down to learn more). By supporting the development of new solutions to prevent, treat and help people recover from these conditions, we’ll save more lives and give more precious moments back to hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Council will guide action

We have established the Heart & Stroke coronary artery and vascular disease council, a team of 10-12 members — half researchers and half community members. The community members bring a range of backgrounds including lived experience of these diseases (either themselves or in a loved one), policy, technology, philanthropy, health care and more. 

Starting in late 2017, they will spend the next two years considering priorities and opportunities in the detection, treatment and management of coronary artery and vascular disease. 

Their knowledge and input will guide Heart & Stroke in determining how we can deliver the greatest impact for Canadians affected by coronary artery and vascular disease, and their families.

Meet our council co-chairs

Ed OBrienEd O’Brien, research co-chair: Dr. Ed O'Brien is an active clinician scientist and director of the vascular biology lab at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, where he recently completed a term as director of research. He was the vice chair of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health’s advisory board. Ed has been involved with Heart & Stroke as a chair and scientific officer of internal peer review committees, and currently serves on the research advisory committee of Heart & Stroke in Alberta.

Ed’s research team works to better understand the cellular mechanisms that lead to atherosclerosis (a form of coronary artery disease), with a particular focus on the increased risks for women post-menopause. His research expertise is continually informed by the people he sees in his clinical practice, a real asset to this council.


Beth Luhowy, community co-chair: Beth Luhowy is the manager of quality for Diagnostic Services Manitoba, overseeing quality for public sector laboratories and rural diagnostic imaging. Among other leadership roles, she has co-chaired a provincial working group with representation from all regional health authorities and federal/provincial laboratories.

Beth had a heart attack herself and has multiple family members and friends who have had heart issues. She is passionate about promoting awareness and sharing her experience to advance treatment and recovery. Along with her personal and professional expertise, Beth brings to the council deep knowledge of the challenges facing rural populations in accessing healthcare services. 

About Heart & Stroke mission critical areas

Heart & Stroke has adopted a new framework that will drive progress in what we are calling mission critical areas or MCAs. These are the six heart and stroke disease states that together represent the biggest burden — on Canadians’ health, on the economy and on society. 

The MCAs are not the only areas where Heart & Stroke works, but they reflect where we believe we can have the greatest impact. The six MCAs are:

The work of our six MCA councils will also feed into a strategic planning process underway at Heart & Stroke, to determine our direction as an organization.

More information