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February marks Heart Month

February 24, 2014

February marks Heart Month, and the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Initiative (WCHI) at Women’s College Hospital is celebrating with activities to engage and educate staff on the topic of heart health.

“Our goal is to educate staff, as well as to encourage and motivate them to form habits which ensure good heart health,” said Stephanie Naulls, registered kinesiologist, WCHI.

As part of the monthly celebrations, the WCHI team is sending out weekly awareness and activity emails, which discuss heart health related topics and provide staff with fun quizzes. Topics have included risk factors for heart disease, how to manage the winter months and working in a sedentary job.

“Heart Month gives us an opportunity to spread knowledge about the prominence of cardiovascular disease amongst Canadians, and the importance of understanding and recognizing risk factors,” said Debbie Childerhose, registered physiotherapist and program coordinator, WCHI. 

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death among Canadians, with an estimated 16,000 deaths due to heart attack each year. Factors that may increase the potential for developing heart disease include age, family history, smoking, physical inactivity and stress.

To promote heart health, the WCHI team has come up with five simple tips to maintain general heart health and well being:

  1. Keep moving- People who have seated jobs are two times more likely to get heart disease than those with standing jobs. Add movement into your day whenever possible.
  2. Make sleep a priority - A good night’s sleep is essential for your body’s general health and well being. Work on making a healthy, uninterrupted sleep routine each night. Eliminating the use of TVs, computers or mobile devices an hour before bed is also beneficial.
  3. Manage your stress – Stress should be released in a healthy way, whether that is talking to a friend, family member or writing in a journal. Not managing stress can raise blood pressure and negatively affect the heart.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet Canada’s Food Guide is an excellent resource to learn about portion size and healthy food options.
  5. Make your health a priority - Life can get quite busy and health can sometimes go on the backburner. Remember to make your health a priority and to set time aside to do what you need to do, whether that is to exercise or prepare your own nutritious meals.

The WCHI is one of the first programs in Canada designed specifically to meet the needs of women who have, or are at risk of developing, heart disease. With a referral, patients can work with an interdisciplinary team of professionals to get cardiovascular assessments, risk factor profiles, exercise assessments and assistance with lifestyle modification and nutrition.

To learn more about the WCHI program, click here.

Cardiac Rehab team
Members of the Cardiac Rehab team wearing red for heart month. From left to right: Miriam Fong, Shelley Thakrar, Jennifer Price, Stephanie Naulls and Debbie Childerhose.
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