Q. What is For Her Heart’s Sake?
For Her Heart’s Sake is a project at the forefront of innovation in the prevention and care of women’s heart disease. It includes 3 urgent community health care initiatives funded by the Victoria General Hospital Foundation including a community awareness and education campaign, targeted women’s research and cardiac care programs. For detailed information on For Her Heart’s Sake, please read about Our Cause.
Q. Why focus on women’s heart health?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Manitoba women, and women worldwide. It kills more women than men, more than all cancers combined – and it’s on the rise. Women are half our population, half our workforce and societies’ caregivers. A majority of them are now in the ‘heart and stroke prone years’, and unaware of the significant risks to their lives.
For decades, heart disease has been characterized as a ‘man’s disease’. Investments in medical research have focused almost exclusively on men, masking the real prevalence and severity of the illness in women. Women-specific signs and symptoms of heart disease have been overlooked, misdiagnosed and under-treated by medical professionals, and dismissed, ignored or unnoticed by women.
This can and must change. For Her Heart’s Sake is a critical first step in our fight against women’s heart disease.
Q. Who is eligible to participate in the First STEP Program and clinical research study?
Participants are women 50+ years or older who have a cardiac-related illness such as heart failure or have had cardiac procedures such as bypass surgery, heart valve surgery or angioplasty, or stents placed in their coronary arteries, who have been unable to receive rehabilitative care services through traditional re-hab programs offered in Manitoba.
Q. When does the First STEP Cardiac Care Program for Women start?
Recruiting is underway and participants are expected to begin the program in the spring of 2016.
Q. What is the difference between the First STEP Cardiac Care Program for Women and WRHA Cardiac Rehabilitation?
The overall approach to the 12-week First STEP Cardiac Care Program for Women is to empower lifestyle changes using a model of self-management combined with staff and peer support. Self-managed care, combined with education and resources for a better lifestyle, is critical to making a commitment to heart health that can be sustained in the future.
The WRHA Cardiac Rehab Program is a four-month program delivered at either the Reh-Fit Centre or the Wellness Institute, four times per day at set times at a modest cost. Despite an abundance of innovative strategies to enhance participation, participation rates remain low for women. Our hope is that once participants have successfully completed the First STEP Program, they will be more comfortable making these lifestyles changes, which will lead to participation in the more structured WRHA Cardiac Rehab Program.
Q. Why is the First STEP Cardiac Care Program for Women taking place at Victoria General Hospital and not St-Boniface?
While St-Boniface Hospital is home to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Cardiac Sciences Program and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, our First STEP Cardiac Care Program for Women is a new and critical program at the forefront of innovation in women’s cardiac care. This first-ever in North America, interdisciplinary and gender-specific program is designed exclusively for Manitoba women cardiac survivors 50+ years of age who have been unable to receive treatment through traditional rehab programs.
Victoria General Hospital is a proven leader in the advancement of women’s health. We are home to the nationally acclaimed Mature Women’s Centre, which provides women with access to a range of customized services through a unique interdisciplinary and individualized approach to care. This innovative, alternative model of care for women is the foundation of the First STEP Program for Women, and will empower survivors to take control of their heart health and make the total lifestyle changes that they need to lead longer, healthier lives.
Victoria General Hospital also has its own specialized research department, the Victoria Institute of Clinical Research & Evaluation. The Institute will lead and coordinate a gender-specific clinical research study in conjunction with the First STEP Program to generate new, gender-specific and life-saving research that will transform the way women are diagnosed and treated in Manitoba and around the world.
By utilizing our in-house expertise and collaborating with many partners including the WRHA Cardiac Sciences Program, we will make efficient use of health care resources, which in turn will help us make an incredible impact on the health and well-being of women in Manitoba.
Q What is your fundraising goal? How much have you raised so far?
We are half way to our commitment of raising $1 million to cover the full costs of this vital and innovative program. Every dollar you give will go directly toward our fight against women’s heart disease – empowering women and saving lives.
Q. How can I help?
#getHeartChecked – and – Join the Fight against women’s heart disease. Help us raise awareness, educate and empower women and others in our community by pledging your support, sharing our messages, organizing home/work events, and/or making a donation. We all need to be part of the solution.