New resource to support Canadians living with the epidemic of heart failure

TORONTO, May 26, 2016 – Employing a one-stop-shop approach, embedding the latest online technology from trusted cardiovascular medical leaders, the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research in tandem with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre today launch a new website designed to educate and support the one million Canadians living with heart failure – and the 60,000 men and women across the country who will be diagnosed this year with the incurable yet preventable cardiac condition.

“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 non-adherence – 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.”

Filled with patient-focused content developed by medical experts, 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 (UHN). “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.

“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 a cardiac condition 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.”

Says Nadia Thomson, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart research nurse practitioner: “This site provides a complete overview of just about everything a patient needs to know about heart failure. Up to now, the majority of online information addresses only certain topics relating to heart failure management, like signs, symptoms, and risk factors, forcing patients to multiple different sites to seek answers. In addition, this website provides patients and their families with access to the most current and up-to-date information on heart failure based on Canadian best-practice recommendations.