Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative

Misconceptions still persist that cardiovascular disease is not a ‘real problem’ for women. The Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative is working to change this through education and awareness. This is a preventable disease and we can save lives by making women more aware of the risks as well as the symptoms of heart disease.

Wendy Wray

Nurse Director of the Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative, MUHC

The Challenge

Every seven minutes, a life is cut short in Canada due to heart disease, and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor associated with the disease. Characterized as injuries to the heart, blood vessels of the heart, veins and arteries throughout the body and within the brain, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are more commonly known as heart attacks, hypertension, heart failure, and rheumatic heart disease. Respecting no geographic, gender, or socio-economic boundaries, CVDs are some of the most prevalent illnesses facing Canadians today.

Traditionally thought of as “a middle-aged man’s disease”, heart disease is not usually recognized as one of the primary causes of death in women, but the harsh reality is that women are six times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer. In fact, heart disease kills more women aged 65 and older than all cancers combined. With Canadian life expectancy continuing to rise, the number of women living with heart disease is also expected to increase, highlighting the importance of educating women about the symptoms of heart disease. Better efforts need to be made before the disease claims the life of another grandmother, mother, aunt or sister.

The Solution

The MUHC’s Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative (WHHI) is the first nurse-led women’s heart disease prevention program in Canada. Its goal is to help women understand their risk of heart disease from factors within their control including: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, smoking, poor nutrition and physical inactivity as well as those outside of their control such as: age, family history, and ethnicity. The WHHI provides individualized, specialized care and teaches strategies to reduce a woman’s overall level of risk.

The WHHI has been instrumental in increasing the awareness and importance of the early prevention of heart disease within the MUHC and in the Montreal community. The program’s continued outreach has inspired and empowered women to take control of their health and lifestyle, and in order to remain at the forefront of cardiovascular disease prevention, it must:

  • Establish an innovative prevention model for women’s heart disease for Quebec and the rest of Canada
  • Provide timely access to highly specialized and prevention-focused care
  • Reduce the number of potential visits to the emergency department
  • Expand the reach of the WHHI by promoting public education and transferring our expertise to the community at large

How you can help

We are raising $1 million to support the Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative.

For more information, please contact Elise Monaghan Joubert, Director of Development, 514-934-1934, ext. 35427, elise.monaghanjoubert@muhc.mcgill.ca

You can donate online, download our donation form or call us at 514-843-1543.

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