Your donation at work

Heart & Stroke donors and volunteers supported these advances in 2023

When we beat as one, we accomplish so much.

Thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers, in 2023, Heart & Stroke invested $22 million in life-saving research and $32.5 million in advocacy and health promotion.

Here are some of the achievements our donors and volunteers made possible in 2023:

1. Investing in life-saving research

Problem: Despite many research breakthroughs, much work remains to be done in the fight to beat heart disease and stroke. Every five minutes, someone in Canada still dies from heart disease, stroke or vascular cognitive impairment.

The cause is urgent: More than 3.5 million people across the country of all ages, ethnicities and genders are living with heart disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment. This number is on the rise as Canada’s population ages and more people are diagnosed with these conditions at a younger age.

Solutions: We spur innovation, accelerate the translation of knowledge into action and support the next generation of heart and brain researchers across Canada.

Here are just a few examples of the groundbreaking research that you supported in 2023:

Also in 2023, your gifts made possible ten $100,000 grants to leading stroke researchers to support the future of clinical stroke research, through a partnership with Brain Canada and the Canadian Stroke Consortium. 

Through our health equity strategy, we are committed to working alongside community partners to close gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care so all people in Canada can achieve optimal health outcomes.

2. Improving health equity

Problem: Studies have shown that different communities in Canada experience unique challenges in accessing treatment, diagnosis and support. Some face a greater risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Solutions: Through our health equity strategy, we are committed to working alongside community partners to close gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care so all people in Canada can achieve optimal health outcomes.

Here are some of the milestones you supported in 2023:

Closing the gender research gap in heart and brain health: In 2023, we focused on developing the next phase of our women’s heart and brain health initiative (launched in 2016) through these actions. 

  • Raised public awareness through campaigns: Heart & Stroke launched two public awareness campaigns to educate people in Canada on the inequities women experience relating to their heart and brain health. Media across Canada covered our two reports:
  • Identified gaps and worked to strengthen the healthcare system: During the fourth Canadian Women’s Heart Health Summit, stakeholders discussed strengthening the healthcare system’s capacity to identify and bridge research and clinical practice gaps while developing and disseminating strategies to improve women’s heart and brain health.
  • Funded researchers focused on women’s health: The June 2023 launch of our new Personnel Awards on Women’s Heart and Brain Health will help increase the number of researchers and clinician-scientists in Canadian universities and research institutions devoted specifically to women’s heart and brain health.

Empowering Indigenous communities with brain and heart health knowledge: In 2023, your gifts supported partnerships with Indigenous communities across Canada to meet the challenges of health reconciliation, share knowledge and tools, and address the gaps in social determinants of health.

Here are some examples of this work:

  • Launched funding for Indigenous researchers: In May, Heart & Stroke, Brain Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (CIHR-ICRH) launched the Personnel Awards for Indigenous Scholars. The multi-year awards will provide funding to master’s and doctoral students to increase the number of Indigenous trainees working in heart and/or brain research.
  • Strengthening relationships with First Nations communities: In Manitoba, we continued building “Best Practice in Seven First Nation Communities,” a collaboration between seven First Nations communities and key partners to inform stroke rehabilitation best practices through learnings from First Nations communities.

Addressing health inequity within Canada’s research communities: While the Black community faces greater risk factors for heart disease and stroke than do many other groups, Black scientists are less represented in heart and brain health research.

  • In 2023, your donations supported the launch of the inaugural Black scholars multi-year awards program by Heart & Stroke, in partnership with Brain Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (CIHR-ICRH). The program will provide $1.5 million in financial support for master’s and doctoral students to remove financial barriers, allow students to undertake a program of research and engage with industry mentors. 

3.  Promoting health to reduce risk factors

Problem: Nine in 10 people in Canada have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Solutions: Since as many as 8 in 10 cases of premature stroke and heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle and behaviours (like eating a healthy diet, staying active and being smoke-free), Heart & Stroke is committed to helping people in Canada live healthier lives by promoting healthy habits.

Here is some of the progress you supported in 2023:

  • Promoting heart-healthy habits to kids: Heart & Stroke’s Jump Rope for Heart, active in schools across Canada, brings together students, teachers and families to learn about healthy habits while raising funds to support Heart & Stroke’s mission. In 2023, more than 770,000 students in over 2,600 schools across Canada participated in the program — a 62% increase over the previous year.
  • Influencing healthy public policy: Heart & Stroke advocacy efforts resulted in the following key legislative and policy changes.
  • Protecting youth from vaping: As a result of Heart & Stroke advocacy work, a federal vape tax was implemented in October. The government of Quebec also committed to a tax on vaping e-liquids and in August, announced a ban on all vaping flavours excluding tobacco.
  • Strengthening tobacco regulations and smoking cessation: Alongside partners, Heart & Stroke successfully advocated to the federal government to adopt a Tobacco Cost Recovery Fee framework to recover smoking cessation program costs from tobacco manufacturers. Heart & Stroke and our partners received $1.2 million in federal funding for smoking cessation public awareness work, and Canada became the first country to publish health warnings on individual cigarettes, cigars and their tubes.
  • Advocating for improvements in brain and health care: In March, we saw the government of Newfoundland and Labrador respond to our advocacy efforts by announcing a new institute focused on prevention and management of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Similarly, the Saskatchewan Minister of Health commited to deliver additional funding to increase the number of heart function nurse practitioners and pharmacists, which will significantly improve access to the province’s two heart failure clinics.
  • Requiring healthy eating policies to protect kids: Responding to years of consistent Heart & Stroke advocacy, Health Canada announced a policy proposal to restrict food advertising primarily directed at children.  The next step will bring draft regulations that protect children and youth in Canada from being targeted by unhealthy food and beverage advertising. 

4.  Saving lives

The problem: Too many people in Canada are dying from heart disease, stroke or vascular cognitive impairment — one person every five minutes.  

Solutions: As a trusted leader in health education, Heart & Stroke is proud to work with health professionals and the public to equip them with the latest, evidence-based knowledge and tools to save lives and improve outcomes from heart disease and stroke.

2023 accomplishments made possible by your support include:

  • Training the next generation of life-savers: Heart & Stroke has been the leader in emergency cardiovascular care education. We establish the CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Guidelines and the First Aid Guidelines for all of Canada, forming the basis of all resuscitation training programs in Canada. In 2023:
    • Our network of over 8,000 instructors trained 450,500+ individuals to provide emergency cardiovascular care and first aid.
    • We launched CardiacCrash™, a team-based, interactive program that uses active learning to teach basic CPR/AED skills in workplace and school settings.
  • Improving access to defibrillators: Heart & Stroke continued to urge governments to introduce regulations and policies that improve public access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Key wins include AEDs now being exempt from provincial sales tax in British Columbia, the establishment of an online AED registry by Shared Health Manitoba, and the government of Nova Scotia committing $250,000 to install AEDs in high-traffic public places and remote communities with longer EMS response times.
  • Raising awareness of signs of stroke: We continue to champion our national FAST (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) signs of stroke awareness campaign. In 2023, a news creative campaign highlighted the voices of people with lived experience to emphasize the importance of calling 9-1-1. These public service announcements appeared on TV, radio, billboards, and transit ads.
  • Advancing heart failure resources and care: Heart & Stroke conducted a national survey of resources and services for people with heart failure across Canadian hospitals, with over 500 sites contributing. The results were published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology in July 2023. In June, the Minister of Health in Saskatchewan responded to a proposal presented by Heart & Stroke, resulting in a commitment of ongoing funding to support nurse practitioner and pharmacy positions that will significantly improve access to the province’s two heart failure clinics. 
5. Enhancing recovery

Problem: An estimated 3.5 million people in Canada and their families are living with the effects of heart disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment. Their most urgent needs include support during the transition from hospital to home, and support for those caring for a family member or friend. 

Solutions: Heart & Stroke research and community outreach programs are focused on improving the recovery and overall quality of life of people affected by heart disease and stroke and their caregivers. In 2023, you supported these advances:

  • Updating the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations: Heart & Stroke continues to provide the latest best practices and tools to support effective stroke care. Updates in 2023 included the Acute Stroke Management module and the Rehabilitation, Recovery and Community Participation Following Stroke module.
  • Refreshing our People with Lived Experience (PWLE) Engagement Integrated Plan, with strategies that include:
    • Strengthening peer support systems: Heart & Stroke’s Online Peer Communities saw an increase in membership, with 16% year-over-year growth in our Care Supporter Community and 10% year-over-year growth in our Community of Survivors.
    • Supporting children and adults living with congenital heart disease (CHD): Heart & Stroke invited people living with CHD (pediatric and adult) and their caregivers to attend a CHD Roundtable with healthcare practitioners. This collaboration is the first to bring together CHD communities and clinicians across the lifespan to strategize on improving access to care across Canada. Next steps include the launch of an integrated action plan.

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