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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 identified coronary 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

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

The group, led by 2 co-chairs, also reflects geographical representation (rural vs urban and provincial/regional), cultural diversity and first language (English/French). Additional considerations for research members included career stage, research focus and research/work setting, while work experience and specific skillsets were considered for community members. 

Starting in January 2018, they will spend two years considering priorities and opportunities in detecting, treating, and managing 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.


Dr. Sonia Anand (Ont.): vascular medical specialist and director, Population Genomics Program, Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University

Dr. Keith Brunt (N.B.): lead translational scientist, New Brunswick Heart Centre; executive director, IMPART investigator team Canada

Dr. Davinder Jassal (Man.): principal investigator, cardiovascular imaging; Cardiology, University of Manitoba

Ms. Amie Kelsey (Ont.): retired critical care educator and nurse; volunteer grief counsellor; survivor of open heart surgery

Dr. Katey Rayner (Ont.): scientist and director, Cardiometabolic microRNA laboratory, University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Mr. Alexander Smith (Ont.): government relations specialist; survivor of heart attack living with arrhythmia and a pacemaker

Mr. Charles Tam (Ont.): medical device industry expert, specializing in regulatory affairs of combination drug-devices, cardiovascular implants, and biological-tissue devices

Dr. Holly Witteman (Que.): researcher, human factors engineering; Family & Emergency Medicine, Laval University

Ms. Sandra Zelinsky (Alta.): patient and community engagement, PaCER (patient researcher group); patient engagement advisor, CANVector external advisory board

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