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Heart & Stroke donors and volunteers supported these advances in 2016

Together with you, Heart & Stroke is saving moments, funding breakthroughs and saving lives. Everything we do is aimed at reducing the death rate and risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke. Your support makes it all possible.

In fiscal 2016 we invested $31.5 million in life-saving research, and $42.4 million in advocacy and health promotion initiatives. These highlights show what those investments achieved, grouped under the four key result areas we use to measure impact.

1. Funding medical breakthroughs

Heart & Stroke funded nearly 850 researchers in medical institutes, universities, hospitals and communities across Canada in 2016. Here are some of their achievements: 

  • Doubling survival rates: Early results from the Canadian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (CanROC) show survival rates from cardiac arrest can be doubled by improvements to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), including increasing the willingness of bystanders to perform CPR. 
  • Detecting clues to dementia: Dr. Eric Smith’s PURE-MIND  study is documenting the prevalence of covert strokes (small strokes that cause very subtle symptoms) in 1,500 Canadians age 40 to 75. This groundbreaking work is an important step toward being able to predict — and ultimately prevent — later cognitive decline and dementia.
  • Opening a window on heart failure: Dr. Charles Cunningham pioneered a new imaging technique that reveals metabolic processes within heart cells as they happen. The hope is that this can be used to predict heart failure.
  • Uncovering new clues to women’s heart risk: A study by Dr. Jay Udell was the first to show that women who take fertility drugs but do not get pregnant face a higher risk of heart disease later.
  • Getting closer to reversing heart damage: Dr. Kim Connelly advanced understanding of processes that could eventually enable doctors to heal a damaged heart by treating and reinjecting the patient’s own cells.
  • Preventing strokes: Dr. David Gladstone built on his earlier discovery of a new and better way to detect atrial fibrillation (Afib) — one of the most common and treatable causes of stroke — by testing a new adhesive “patch” heart monitor that could find Afib earlier and more easily.
  • Using technology to increase healthy behaviour: Dr. Sarah Kirk and Dr. Daniel Rainham put the finishing touches on their Froogie app, which uses interactive fun to encourage children and families to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Heart & Stroke has a rich history of medical breakthroughs. Have a look at more than 60 years of our researchers’ achievements in Milestones that Matter.

2. Preventing disease 

Heart & Stroke works to empower Canadians of all ages to learn about and establish healthy lifestyle choices. 

Our goal is to reduce key risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including high blood pressure, obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and smoking. 

The problem: Canadians’ lifestyles are putting their long-term health at risk. For example:

  • Most children need to eat more fruit and vegetables (55% of Canadian kids aged 12-19 do not eat at least five servings daily, the minimum recommended).
  • Most children should get more physical activity (fewer than one in 10 aged 2-17 get the recommended minimum of 60 minutes a day).
  • Too many adults eat an unhealthy diet (60% of those aged 19 and up do not eat at least seven servings of fruit and vegetables daily, the minimum recommended).
  • Adults are not active enough (only 15% accumulate the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity).

Our progress in 2016:

  • Building healthier communities: In 2016, Heart & Stroke implemented year two of our three-year Healthy Communities Initiative in Manitoba (Frontier School Division), increasing supports and programming for enhancing children’s health. Ten schools across nine northern communities were connected with vital partners such as Students Working Against Tobacco and Aboriginal Youth Mentorship Program, to improve safe routes to school, tobacco awareness, social/emotional health and traditional knowledge. 
  • Helping Canadians reduce risk: The RBC South Asian Women’s Health Program ran clinics in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta to screen South Asian women — who have the highest rates of heart disease and stroke compared to other ethnic groups – for waist circumference, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and high cholesterol. Since the program launched, more than 4,700 people were screened.
  • Getting kids active: In the 2015-16 school year, Heart & Stroke Jump Rope for Heart engaged more than 919,000 children in 3,340 schools across Canada to get active and learn about healthy living, compared to more than 977,200 children in 3,660 schools in the 2014-15 school year; and 877,400 children in 3,770 schools in the 2013-14 school year.
  • Influencing healthy policy: Heart & Stroke was the first Canadian organization to call for a daily limit on sugars added to foods and drinks. In 2016, as part of our Children’s Nutrition Campaign, we held 178 MP meetings to influence elected officials as well as the public in support of two key goals:
  • restricting all commercial marketing of foods and beverages to Canadian children and youth
  • reducing sugary drink consumption through a manufacturer’s levy.

3. Saving lives

Heart & Stroke works to enable faster, better cardiac emergency and stroke response and treatment.

The problem: Too many Canadians are dying from sudden cardiac arrest and stroke.

  • Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency causing death if not immediately treated; an estimated 40,000 occur each year in Canada.
  • Up to 85% of cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals, in homes and public spaces, where the chance of surviving is a dismal 10%.
  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada, and a leading cause of disability; there are an estimated 62,000 strokes in Canada each year
  • The faster someone experiencing a stroke gets to the right hospital and receives appropriate treatment, the better their likelihood for survival and recovery — with little or no disability.

Our progress in 2016:

  • Leading resuscitation education: Heart & Stroke co-authors the Emergency Cardiovascular Care and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Guidelines, which underpin all CPR training in Canada. In 2016 we trained nearly 315,000 clinicians, first responders,and other personnel across Canada to update their skills for responding to cardiac emergencies, compared to 219,000 trained in 2015 and 266,000 trained in 2014.
  • Teaching Canadians to save lives: Since introducing CPR to Canada in 1976, the Foundation works with partners each year to train everyday Canadians in basic CPR and first aid. In 2016 we trained more than 216,000 lay rescuers and everyday Canadians, comparable to the 221,000 trained in 2015 and 225,000 in 2014.
  • Guiding stroke care: Working with experts, Heart & Stroke closely monitors scientific evidence and produces the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations. These are relied on by healthcare professionals for up-to-date guidance on preventing, treating and managing stroke. In 2016, our Acute Inpatient Stroke Care Guidelines was the second most read article in the International Journal of Stroke.
  • Raising stroke awareness: Through our campaigns to publicize the FAST signs of stroke and our annual Stroke Report, more Canadians recognize a stroke and know to act quickly to reduce the damage it can cause. Our 2016 Stroke Report focused on the link between stroke and dementia and generated more than 53 million views; this compares to over 62 million views for our 2015 Stroke Report and close to 41 million views for the 2014 edition.

4. Promoting recovery

Heart & Stroke contributes to increasing quality of life by enhancing supports for survivors and their care partners when it is most needed.

The problem: An estimated 1.6 million Canadians and their families are living with the effects of heart disease and stroke. Their most urgent needs include:

  • Support during the transition from hospital — a critical time for getting started on recovery and reducing risk of a future event.
  • Support for caregivers — including the more than one in four Canadians who report providing care to a family member or friend with a chronic illness, disability or aging needs.

Our progress in 2016:

  • Engaging survivors: Heart & Stroke continued to engage our Community of Survivors, a network of 785 Canadians who have experienced heart disease, heart failure or stroke and are interested in improving their recovery. This is an increase over nearly 700 individuals since launching in 2015. This group participated in a variety of initiatives, including being media spokespeople and shaping our Patient and Public Engagement strategy.

Providing resources: 

In 2016, there were 49,900* hospital admissions for stroke across Canada. We provided 33,900 copies of Your Stroke Journey (68% of all admissions) – a free comprehensive guide that helps stroke survivors and their families understand the effects of stroke and manage their recovery. 

We introduced Living Well with Heart Disease, a free comprehensive recovery guide. In 2016 there were 108,000* hospital admissions for ischemic heart disease across Canada and we provided 42,500 free copies of this guide (39% of all admissions).

More than 800 survivors and care partners attended our Living with Stroke program in communities across Canada, compared to more than 560 individuals in 2015 and more than 400 in 2014.


*does not include data from Québec

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