Tackling a growing epidemic

Introducing the Heart & Stroke heart failure council

Heart failure is a serious condition that develops after the heart becomes damaged or weakened, such as after a heart attack; this hampers the heart’s ability to move blood around. There is no cure, but early diagnosis, lifestyle changes and appropriate drug treatments can help people lead an active life, stay out of hospital and live longer.

An estimated 600,000 Canadians are living with heart failure.

As people with damaged hearts are living longer, they become more susceptible to heart failure. Today, heart failure is on the rise as more Canadians survive heart attacks and other acute heart conditions. 

That’s why Heart & Stroke has identified heart failure 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 and treat heart failure, we’ll save more lives and give more precious moments back to hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Council will guide action

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

The group, led by two 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 occupation and specific skillsets were considered for community members.

Starting in January 2018, council members will spend two years considering priorities and opportunities in detecting, treating and managing of heart failure. 

Their knowledge and input will guide Heart & Stroke in determining how we can deliver the greatest impact for Canadians living with heart failure, and their families. 

Meet our council co-chairs

Dr. Heather Ross, research co-chair: At the University Health Network in Toronto, Heather Ross is Ted Rogers and Family Chair in Heart Function, head of the Ted Rogers Centre of Excellence in Heart Function, and director of Toronto General Hospital’s cardiac transplant program. 

Heather is a renowned cardiologist who is passionate about transforming heart failure care delivery and outcomes. Using big data and technology, her team is focused on raising quality of life, enhancing self-care, individualizing therapy and improving outcomes for people living with heart failure. She is one of Canada’s top experts in heart failure and brings tremendous leadership and deep knowledge to this team.

Ms. Sandra Thornton, community co-chair: Over a 30-year career, Sandra Thornton has provided leadership in defining and developing successful communications strategies, identifying issues and setting priorities. She has also served on the Heart & Stroke board of directors in Alberta, including two years as board president. 

Sandra’s connection with heart disease is deeply personal. She had a heart attack at age 51, and an aortic valve replacement just seven years later. This history puts Sandra at risk for heart failure, a condition she knows all too well: her mother had heart failure at a relatively young age. With this perspective and her solid background in strategic communications, Sandra brings exceptional leadership qualities to the heart failure council.


Dr. Joseph Cafazzo (Ont.): lead, eHealth Innovation; executive director/founder, Healthcare Human Factors, University Health Network (UHN)

Ms. Bonnie Catlin (BC): provincial heart failure clinical director and HF nursing clinical lead, Cardiac Services BC

Ms. Elaine Campbell (Ont.): retired global pharmaceutical executive, advisor and board member

Dr. Jillianne Code (B.C.): president, HeartLife Foundation of Canada; heart failure survivor and heart transplant recipient

Ms. Susan Hogan-Cunningham (Ont.): uniform recruiter, Greater Toronto Area police service; living with peripartum cardiomyopathy, heart failure that affects pregnant or postpartum women

Dr. Anmol Kapoor (Alta.): General cardiologist, Advanced Cardiology Calgary; focus on heart disease prevention, particularly among the South Asian community and women 

Dr. Alexandra King (Nipissing First Nation, Ont.): internal medicine specialist; inaugural Cameco chair, Indigenous Health and Wellness

Dr. Malcolm King (New Credit First Nation, Ont.): scientific director, Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research; former scientific director, CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health

Dr. Joon Lee (Ont.): health informatics researcher and health data science lab lead, University of Waterloo

Mr. Robert Lomas (Que.): technician; heart attack survivor living with heart failure

Dr. Gavin Oudit (Alta.): Canada Research Chair, heart failure; director, Heart Function Clinic, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, University of Alberta

Dr. Corey Tomczak (Sask.): director, Integrative Cardiovascular Physiology Research program, University of Saskatchewan

Ms. Susan Trim (Nfld.): manager, human resources planning, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador; living with heart failure and type 2 diabetes

Dr. Shelley Zieroth (Man.): head, Medical Heart Failure Program, Cardiac Sciences Program, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority; vice-president, Canadian Heart Failure Society

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