The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research in tandem with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre launched a new website designed to educate and support the one million Canadians living with heart failure. Nearly 60,000 men and women across the country will be diagnosed this year with the incurable yet preventable cardiac condition.
"The numbers are staggering around heart failure, which has reached epidemic levels in Canada and around the globe," says Dr. Mansoor Husain, executive director, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. "In keeping with our mandate, it is imperative that as medical professionals we work proactively to decrease the incidence of heart failure and, just as importantly, reduce the number of these patients who are hospitalized, particularly when they can manage their symptoms at home with access to proper education and guidance."
‘In 2016, about 60,000 Canadians could be diagnosed with heart failure, the incurable yet preventable cardiac condition.’
Filled with patient-focused content developed by medical experts, Tedrogersheartfunction.ca provides insight into heart failure, its treatment, optimal lifestyle choices, related cardiac and vascular conditions, and easy tools like a daily weight record. It will enable individual patients to better monitor tell-tale symptoms like excess fluid buildup that can rapidly lead to an emergency room visit and potentially lengthy hospital stay.
"This site really empowers patients to take ownership of their heart condition and be active members of their own medical team," says Dr. Peter Mitoff, cardiologist, and director of the Heart Function Clinic at St. Josephs'' Health Centre, who spearheaded the project while a clinical fellow at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (University Health Network). "Heart failure, like most chronic diseases, requires key lifestyle and diet modifications, with a focus on decreased salt and fluid-intake, and vigilance around taking the prescribed medications. Patients can trust this site as an extension of the medical advice they would get from their health care team."
Canada''s fastest-rising cardiovascular disease, heart failure carries an average survival rate of just over two years and costs the Canadian healthcare system up to $3 billion a year. The condition is also closely linked to diabetes, cancer and obesity.
"The burden of heart failure is enormous," says Dr. Heather Ross, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research scientific lead and Peter Munk Cardiac Centre cardiologist. "We know that one of the most common reasons for admission to hospital for heart failure patients is nonadherence - to diet or medications. By providing a comprehensive educational platform, we can enhance a patient''s understanding of their condition and the need and purpose for the medical, device, and self-care treatments. Ultimately we hope to improve their quality of life and reduce avoidable heart failure hospital admissions."
"Nothing like this has existed before, so being able to access an online resource that is simple to understand and provides important medical information about this disease in different, interactive formats is invaluable for heart failure patients like me," says Jennifer Ward-Billingham, 27, a Toronto childcare worker who developed cardiomyopathy five years ago and experiences acute episodes of heart failure. "It has been difficult to explain the disease to my family and friends. This site is a perfect platform for making people aware of the reality of living with heart failure."