Media Opportunity: the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC) – Oct. 20 to 23, Toronto, ON

News Canadians can use! The latest in research innovations. Solving complex challenges in heart disease.

What: Cardiology experts from Canada and around the world converge in Toronto to brainstorm strategies to eradicate the impact of heart disease, showcase the latest research breakthroughs − and hear hundreds of speakers highlight innovations in science, prevention, treatment, and recovery. CCC delegates return home to their labs and practices armed with new tools and knowledge that will help prevent heart disease and save lives.

Why: Heart disease is a leading cause of hospitalization and the second leading cause of death in Canada. Every 10 minutes someone in Canada dies from heart disease. Over 1.3 million survivors − and their families and caregivers − are living with the devastating after effects of heart disease. Millions of Canadians are at risk.

Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON

When: Interviews available now through Tuesday Oct 23, including onsite in Toronto from Oct. 20 to 23

Interview Opportunities: 
  • Leading heart experts: Available to talk about the impact of heart disease, why it matters to all Canadians, and give highlights of the research discoveries and innovations being presented at the 2018 Congress.
  • Congress researchers and presenters: The presenters featured below are available to talk about their presentations and impactful work in the area of heart health. 
Opening ceremonies special guests

Dr. Sidika Mithani, President, Public Health Agency of Canada

Key Note speaker: Crisis Management and teamwork: when fan and faces collide

This year’s Canadian Cardiovascular Congress opens on Saturday with a much-anticipated keynote lecture from the University of Alberta’s Peter Brindley, MD, FRCPC, FRCP (Lond), FRCP (Edin). Join Dr. Brindley for an informative and enlightening discussion, focusing on understanding the principles of crisis resource management (without the airplane analogies), understanding how these can improve practice, and useful tools to improve collegiality and communication for the sake of safer healthcare for all. 

Namaste: Study spells good news for yogis

Saturday, October 20th 5:30-5:45 pm ePoster Screen 9

While the practice of yoga currently enjoys enormous popularity with its promise of improved health, its effects on cardiovascular risk have not been measured. This study assessed whether adding yoga to a regular exercise program reduces the risk for heart disease. Sixty participants with high blood pressure and not on medication to control it were randomly assigned to a yoga group or stretching control group. Over three months, participants performed 15 minutes of either yoga or stretching and 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. At the beginning and end of the three-month intervention, participants’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels were tested, and a blood test administered to evaluate their future risk of coronary artery disease. Baseline testing revealed no difference between the two groups but after the three months, the yoga group showed a bigger decrease in risk. Study authors concluded that the practice of yoga during a three-month program was associated with a significant reduction in the yoga group’s risk for heart disease when compared with the control stretching group. (Ashok Pandey, Waterloo) 

Marked improvement over 30 years, but women still vastly under-represented in clinical studies

Saturday, October 20th 6:10-6:20 pm Moderated Presentation Theatre C

Although under-representation of women in clinical trials has been recognized, there is little data examining how the recruitment of women in trials has changed over time. This study evaluated trends of female enrolment in cardiovascular trials in three major medical journals between 1986 and 2015. Female enrollment rates ranged from 37% for non-coronary artery disease trials, 30% for coronary artery disease trials, 28% for heart failure trials, and 28% for arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) trials. Given the frequency of these conditions in the general population, and that proportions of women with coronary artery disease and heart failure in 2011-2014 were 55% and 45% respectively, these percentages were lower than expected. While female enrolment has increased from 21% between 1986-1990 to 33% between 2011-2015, women continue to be under-represented in major cardiovascular trials. This study highlights the need for further strategies to increase enrolment of women in order to minimize gender bias in evidence-based recommendations. (Andrew Yan, Toronto)

Home is where the heart is: cardiac rehab for patients closer to home shows improved outcomes.

Saturday, October 20th 6:20-6:30 pm Moderated Presentation Theatre C

Home is where the heart is: A region-wide system of care that delivers cardiac rehab closer to home increases participation, improves outcomes, and lowers cost. Cardiovascular rehabilitation and secondary prevention (CRSP) programs are highly effective, essential services required for all patients with cardiovascular disease, yet only 15%-35% of Ontario patients participate in CRSP (even lower for women, the elderly, and disadvantaged patients). In one LHIN, CRSP service delivery was completely re-designed to be an integrated, regionally-coordinated, community-based system (IRCS). The most notable changes included: region-wide referral criterion; directly contacting all eligible patients for referral; and service delivery at community-based, non-institutional sites. (Stephanie Frisbee, London)

Could colonialism still be breaking the hearts of our First Nations people?

Sunday, October 21st 10:40-10:50 am Moderated Presentation Theatre D

Although rates of heart disease are declining in the general population, First Nations people continue to be disproportionately represented, with higher rates of heart attack, hospitalization for heart disease, and death. Most explanations focus on lifestyles and behaviours, however there is emerging agreement that persistent colonial practices influence their health status and access to healthcare. The study compared health and treatment outcomes between First Nations and non-First Nations people who underwent coronary angiography (ICA). An analysis of health data conducted for all adults in Manitoba who were recipients of ICA between 2000 and 2009 showed that First Nations recipients had increased death rates and hospitalizations within five years from all causes, including heart disease. First Nations recipients were also less likely to visit a family physician, internist, or specialist within a reasonable time after their ICA. The study’s authors concluded that First Nations ICA recipients experience worse long-term health outcomes and seem to face disparity in access to follow-up care; strategies to address these challenges are imperative. (Annette Schultz, Manitoba)

Heart & Stroke Public Policy Panel on “Attaining access for all: Universal pharmacare to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease in Canada”

Sunday, October 21st 11:00 am-12:30 pm Room MTCC 709

Prescription drugs are integral in clinical management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have been found to shorten time spent in hospitals leading to decreased healthcare costs. In 2016, Canadian pharmacies dispensed more prescriptions for CVD medications than any other category. However, access to medicines in Canada is neither universal nor equitable, and people in Canada face challenges accessing prescription drugs outside of the hospital, unable to afford their prescriptions. There is growing concern that we can and should do better in Canada. This session will explore the challenges in access to medicines and how this impacts the prevention and management of CVD. Participants will discuss the role that the CVD community might play in facilitating change and improving access and health outcomes for patients.

Is illicit fentanyl use short-circuiting hearts?

Sunday, October 21st 1:45-2:00 pm Moderated Presentation Theatre C

Depressed breathing has long been implicated in fentanyl-related sudden deaths; this study set out to determine if the heart’s electrical activity that controls normal heart rhythms is also disrupted and plays a role in these deaths. Laboratory studies focused on a gene that contributes to the electrical activity coordinating our heartbeat. Results showed that fentanyl does disrupt this gene function and prolongs changes in electrical activity within heart cells. The study’s authors report that while their data are not sufficient to conclude that the disruption of gene function is exclusively responsible for fentanyl-related death, they do provide evidence of its implication, especially in individuals whose electrical activity of the heart is already compromised. (Jared Tschirhart, Kingston)

Cancer therapies save lives but at what cost to our hearts?

Sunday, October 21st 3:30-3:45 pm ePoster Screen 7

Cardiotoxicity or dysfunction of the heart caused by cancer treatments is the second leading cause of morbidity and mortality among cancer survivors. This study aimed to assess physicians’ understanding and opinions of cardio-oncology, a field that aims to better understand how cancer therapies can impact cardiac health. In 2017-2018, physicians and allied health providers in North America, South America, Europe, India and China were surveyed to assess their understanding of cardio-oncology. The majority of responders were cardiologists and oncologists; majority worked in academic institutions. Survey results showed that cardiologists strongly agreed that they were knowledgeable about cardiotoxic complications of cancer therapy and were comfortable treating these complications. However, less than 10 per cent of oncologists agreed with this. The survey also showed other discrepancies between these two specialties: majority of cardiologists believed that access to a cardio-oncology service will significantly improve outcomes for cancer patients; less than half of oncologists shared this opinion. What was learned: communication and collaboration between oncologists and cardiologists are vital to provide the best cancer care without compromising the cardiovascular health of patients. (Jenny Peng, Ottawa)

Heart & Stroke’s patient-centred approach to online peer support for survivors and caregivers

Monday, October 22nd 10:45-11:00 am ePoster Screen 3

Discussions with individuals with lived experience of heart disease and stroke on how connecting with their peers would aid in recovery led to Heart & Stroke’s development of bilingual (English and French) online support groups for survivors and caregivers. Sixteen survivors founded the initial closed Facebook group, the Community of Survivors. Recently we replicated this approach for a Care Supporters’ Community. After a year, there are currently 1100 members in the Community of Survivors with members split approximately evenly between heart disease and stroke. After three-and-a-half months the Care Supporters Community has 250 members.  Common themes in both groups are mental health challenges including anxiety, isolation and depression. Care Supporters’ Community themes relate to burnout, stress and the fear of loved ones experiencing further health issues. This approach to online peer support has created a viable model with highly engaged members; next steps are to continue membership growth, deepening the sense of community, and diversification of membership, supported by an in-community volunteer ambassador role. (Gavin Arthur, Vancouver)

Heart & Stroke Plenary Session on “Access to medications – A Heart & Stroke talk show with host Chris Simpson”

Monday, October 22nd 11:00 am – 12:30 pm Room MTCC 701

This Heart & Stroke talk show will dive deeper into the issues that face clinicians working in the community and people in Canada struggling to access the medicines they need. The stage will be shared with a community pharmacist (Agatha Dwilewicz), cardiologist (Sacha Bhatia), Indigenous physician (Marcia Anderson) and person with lived experience (Jackie Ratz) to provide delegates realistic, pragmatic strategies they can use in their practice and in supporting their patients’ access and adherence to prescribed medicines. Key questions will be addressed: How does low income influence access to medicines? How does age impact access? How does the lack of universal pharmacare impact community practice and the health of patients? What barriers do people in the Indigenous community face?

Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guideline Updates – for more information please see media contacts

CCS and its Affiliate Societies are releasing four important updates to their cardiovascular guidelines.The individual guideline updates will be presented at each of the respective workshop presentations. 

Management of Atrial Fibrillation 

Saturday, October 20 @ 11:00 – 12:30am, MTCC Level 800 Hall G

Dr. Jason Andrade

AF is the most common arrhythmia managed by physicians, affecting approximately 350,000 Canadians. Since AF can lead to more serious medical problems such as stroke, heart failure, and reduced quality of life, the detection and management of AF in patients is important. Given the emergence of new evidence related to atrial fibrillation (AF), the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) has updated their guidelines to address clinically important advances in AF management.

Cardiovascular Screening of Competitive Athletes

Sunday, October 21 @ 2:00 – 3:00 pm, MTCC 714B

Dr.Amer Johri, Dr.Paul Poirier  

Although uncommon in the competitive athlete population, sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the most common identifiable cause of sudden death in this population. The CCS and the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society (CHRS) address the lack of a Canadian position on cardiovascular screening of competitive athletes by creating appropriate, evidence-based recommendations for Canadian sporting organizations and institutions.

Management of ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction

Sunday, October 21 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, MTCC Level 800 Hall G

Dr. Graham Wong, Dr.Warren Cantor

While Canada’s geography presents unique challenges regarding the choice and timely delivery pf reperfusion therapy for STEMI patients, recommendations can serve as a practical template to help guide the recognition, transportation and initial reperfusion of STEMI patients in a variety of health care environments.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Familial Hypercholesterolemia 

Monday, October 22 @ 4:30 – 5:30 pm, MTCC 714A

Dr.Liam Brunham

Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is the most common genetic disorder to be encountered in clinical cardiology, with a prevalence of 1 in 250 individuals. Patients with FH have a significantly higher risk for cardiovascular events than the average person; however, FH is under-diagnosed and under-treated worldwide. The 2018 Canadian Cardiovascular Society Position Statement on Familial Hypercholesterolemia provides an overview of new developments and resources available to aid clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

Quotes: The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress

“The 2018 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto will be jam-packed with expert speakers, thought-provoking sessions, and opportunities to build connections. More than 2,500 health professionals in attendance will seize the opportunity to explore different perspectives, innovate and co-create, and present and discuss the latest science and new cardiovascular advances.”

Dr. Michelle Graham, Scientific programme committee chair, Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 

“The threat of heart disease is urgent and remains a stubborn leading cause of death and hospitalization. The learnings and connections made at the Congress will build capacity for an even stronger heart health community in Canada, shaping the future of diagnosis, treatment, and care management, which will save life’s precious moments and bring hope to families affected by heart diseases.”

Dr. Cindy Yip, Director of heart health, Heart & Stroke

Heart Health Facts:
  • Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada
  • Every 10 minutes someone in Canada dies from heart disease
  • Heart disease is a leading cause of hospitalization in Canada
  • Nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke; more than 24 million Canadians

The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress brings together more than 2,500 heart health experts to exchange ideas and present the latest breaking research. It is being held in Toronto from October 20 to 23. #CCCTO

Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy or position. Heart & Stroke and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability

Canadian Cardiovascular Congress

Co-hosted by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and Heart & Stroke, CCC provides a broad spectrum of cardiovascular health professionals with current scientific information, accredited education opportunities and an ideal forum to connect with other cardiovascular health and care colleagues. This annual conference unites Canada’s cardiovascular community to network, learn and showcase the latest in research and innovations.

Canadian Cardiovascular Society

The national voice for cardiovascular physicians and scientists. Its mission is to promote cardiovascular health and care through knowledge translation, professional development, and leadership in health policy.

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

More moments. More life. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. Powered by donors and volunteers, we fund life-saving research and help Canadians lead healthier lives. Heart & Stroke


For media interviews, please contact:  

Diane Hargrave

416-467-9954, ext. 102

For media assistance: 

Alex Maheux 

Heart & Stroke