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February is Heart Month, and after nearly 70 years, Heart & Stroke's signature fundraiser, the door-to-door Canvass goes 100% online

·8 min read

COVID-19 pandemic accelerates ways to connect digitally with supporters and innovate

TORONTO, Feb. 1, 2021 /CNW/ - Almost seven decades after its inception and hundreds of millions of dollars raised, Heart & Stroke's seminal Heart Month fundraiser, the door-to-door Canvass, is now knocking on virtual doors.

"The Heart Month Canvass has been the cornerstone of Heart & Stroke since 1952 when a group of cardiologists and their families braved the cold to ask neighbours for donations to support heart research," said Doug Roth, CEO, Heart & Stroke. "For nearly 70 years, dedicated volunteers in communities large and small across Canada have continued this tradition and now the Canvass has gone completely virtual to meet today's needs."

Pivoting in-person fundraising events to go online and enhancing the digital experience is only one of the ways Heart & Stroke has responded to the challenging environment. "For years we have focused on innovating to fund our mission, and in this climate it's more critical than ever to look for new ways to collaborate and create partnerships to accelerate change," Roth adds.

Heart & Stroke just announced a new partnership with Brain Canada* in the form of a $6 million Heart-Brain Connection IMPACT Award, to study the deep connections between the heart and the brain. And in November, it released positive results from Activate, a pilot high-blood pressure program made possible with the support of private investors, government, and community partners. This year it is also working with the World Heart Federation and other Canadian health partners to address and lessen the burden of heart failure, which affects more than 600,000 people in Canada.

Heart disease and stroke have not gone away during the pandemic. And alarmingly, not only is the virus much deadlier for people with chronic conditions, COVID-19 can also damage previously healthy hearts and have serious impacts on the brain. This Heart Month, Roth wants people to look after themselves and their heart and vascular health, and for supporters to know that funding research breakthroughs is more urgent than ever.

People like Donna Hart and Barry Tsuruda, married 36 years, have more reasons than most to be thankful for research advances. In 2015, Donna's heart began to fail rapidly after she was diagnosed with giant cell myocarditis, a disease of the heart. The avid cyclist needed a transplant to survive. At the same time, across town, Barry had just been admitted to a different hospital with chest pain. He was having a heart attack and was in intensive care and required stent surgery.

"What are the chances of a husband and wife, both very active people in their 50s, being in hospital the very same week with life-threatening heart conditions?" says Donna. "I got a new heart, something that brings on a wide range of complex emotions, and it's been hard, but I feel good today. The reality is neither Barry nor I would be here today if it wasn't for breakthroughs in research," she adds. "I actually showed my doctor Barry's heart pictures and he said twenty years earlier he would have just been told to just go home and be comfortable. Instead, today he's back riding with his cycling club and I can swim again."

To see research that Heart & Stroke is funding to treat conditions like Donna Hart's please click here. To see the 2019 Heart & Stroke report on the heart and brain connection click here.

To volunteer as a fundraiser or to donate to the 2021 Heart Month Heart & Stroke Virtual Canvass please click here.

Media Background

For almost 70 years, Heart & Stroke has supported research and programs to beat heart disease and stroke. We rally the best scientific minds around the most critical issues and our work empowers researchers, health systems and people across Canada to stop the devastating impact of our diseases. Since its inception, Heart & Stroke has invested $1.55 B in research, additionally, in just over a decade it has invested $540 M for advocacy and health promotion. This has helped decrease the mortality rate from heart disease and stroke by 75 percent, yet every five minutes, someone in Canada still dies from heart disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment.

Working to beat heart disease and stroke in 2021 and beyond:

Heart-Brain Connection: Seeking to gain better understanding of the critical connections between the heart and the brain, Heart & Stroke & Brain Canada just announced a partnership resulting in a research award in the amount of $ 6 million, the Heart-Brain Connection IMPACT Award. This research will investigate and unravel the heart-brain connection to improve knowledge and treatments.

Closing the Gap on Health Inequities: Prioritize closing the gap in Women and Indigenous health. All research applications must integrate Sex and Gender Based Analysis and Reporting (SGBAR) to be considered for funding and to create and sustain meaningful change. And we are working on a framework to apply the principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) to be integrated across all research programs, like it is for IMPACT Award. Heart & Stroke currently funds two research Chairs in Women's Indigenous Heart and Brain Health in partnership with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). And this month, H&S is hosting the third annual Canadian Women's Heart Health Summit in partnership with the Canadian Women's Heart Health Centre at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Heart Failure: Working to lessen the burden of heart failure which afflicts over 600 thousand people in Canada in collaboration with World Heart Federation and other Canadian health partners. First order of business is to collect data to understand current resources and services throughout all health care institutions in the country.

Advocating for Healthy Policies: Pushing for a national pharmacare program to provide the access to medically necessary medication that everyone in Canada deserves and reduce the burden on the health care system. Working to restrict youth vaping and cap nicotine levels in vapes, as well as restrict the marketing of unhealthy products such as sugary drinks to children.

Increasing Cardiac Arrest Survival Rates: Looking at new ways to increase the survival of out of hospital cardiac arrest. We support a vast network of Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation training across Canada and have been instrumental in placing Automated External Defibrillators in public places. Looking for innovative ways and partnerships to drive the survival rate up.

Canadian Research Milestones (source heartandstroke.ca)

1954: Dr. Wilfred Bigelow performs first successful open-heart surgery in Canada, using a technique developed through a Heart & Stroke grant.

1964: Dr. William Mustard develops surgical procedure to correct "blue baby syndrome," a previously lethal heart defect.

1968: One of the first heart transplant surgeries in Canada is performed.

1976: Dr. Henry Barnett conducts first clinical trial using Aspirin to prevent strokes.

1983: Dr. Robert Cote perfects a clinical tool that measures neurological deficits following acute stroke. This Canadian Neurological Scale is now used all over the world.

1987: Researchers pioneer the use of the clot-busting drug tPA for heart attacks.

1990: First genetic link to premature heart disease is discovered.

1997: Human genome mapping reveals more than 84,000 DNA sequences related to heart disease and stroke.

1999: Clot-busting drug tPA used to treat ischemic stroke – one of the biggest life-saving breakthroughs.

2000: Dr. Lori West discovers that unlike adults, newborns are able to accept hearts from incompatible donors.

2000: ACE inhibitors are found to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

2003: Canadian Stroke Strategy, a joint initiative with the Canadian Stroke Network, revolutionizes stroke management with a new integrated approach to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

2004: INTERHEART study, led by Dr. Salim Yusuf discovers the existence of nine modifiable risk factors that account for over 90% of heart attacks worldwide.

2009: World's first in-utero surgery to correct congenital heart defects is performed in Canada.

2015: ESCAPE trial shows that treating major strokes by removing blood clots through blood vessels cuts deaths by 50% and reduces disability in survivors.

2016: Dr. Louise Pilote identifies gender – distinct from biological sex – as a unique risk factor for the recurrence of major cardiac events.

2016: The stroke strategy established in 2003 pays off as research proves integrated systems of stroke care reduce stroke deaths by 20%.

2018: Pioneering analysis quantifies the economic toll of stroke and heart disease on families, through reduced earnings and more.

2019: Discovery of a molecule linked to 1 in 5 cases of heart failure creates potential for preventing this debilitating condition.

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don't want you to miss it. That's why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don't miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.

Recently, Heart & Stroke released a new creative concept, Beat as One, to unite people in Canada as a community against the myriad of issues surrounding heart disease and stroke. Learn more and join us to beat heart disease and stroke.

*Funding for the Heart-Brain Connection IMPACT Award has been made possible with the financial support of Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative partnership between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada, and Heart & Stroke.

Donna Hart and Barry Tsuruda, a love story saved. (CNW Group/Heart and Stroke Foundation)
Donna Hart and Barry Tsuruda, a love story saved. (CNW Group/Heart and Stroke Foundation)

SOURCE Heart and Stroke Foundation


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