February is Heart Month

Over the past 60 years, thanks to the work of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and our partners, the death rate from heart disease and stroke in Canada has declined by more than 75%. Forty per cent of this decrease has occurred in the last decade alone.

While this is cause for celebration, there are 1.6 million Canadians living with the effects of heart disease and stroke. One of them is two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Isabelle Brasseur.

Brasseur has vasodepressor syncope, a congenital heart condition that has caused her heart to stop as a result of extreme physical exertion or stress—a serious issue for an Olympic athlete. Isabelle takes beta- blockers to slow her heart down and allow her to lead a normal life.

She became pregnant in 2000. When doctors discovered her baby was in breech position, they scheduled a C-section. During the procedure Brasseur went into cardiac arrest. Her doctors reacted quickly by administering a surge of adrenaline to start her heart, and both she and her daughter survived.

Advances made possible by Heart and Stroke Foundation research have allowed her to manage her condition and become one of the growing number of heart disease survivors.

“Because of my heart condition I have had to make adjustments to control my health,” said Brasseur. “I’ve lost my father and my father-in-law, and my mother has suffered strokes, so I understand the pain that is associated with heart disease and stroke. My best advice is to identify early on everything you can do to reduce your risk and follow the advice of groups like the Heart and Stroke Foundation, who are working hard to keep Canadians healthy.”

In 2013, the Foundation helped create 165,000 survivors and since its inception has invested more than $1.39 billion in heart and stroke research to date.

February is Heart Month. When a Heart and Stroke Foundation canvasser arrives at your door, please give generously.

Donna Hastings

CEO, Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, Heart and Stroke Foundation