SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation

Heart and Stroke Foundation

October 26, 2015 07:00 ET

Today's Highlights From the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress

Research Focused on a Healthier Future for Canadian Families

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 26, 2015) - More than half of Canadians have been directly touched by heart disease or stroke. There's an urgent need to prevent these diseases and to save more lives.

Despite our progress, heart disease and stroke continue to be the second leading cause of death in Canada and a leading cause of disability, responsible for 66,000 deaths each year. And we are facing a new set of challenges that will require more research and new solutions.

To meet these challenges, more than 3,500 leading cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, researchers, nurses and other experts from across Canada and around the globe are meeting in Toronto today for the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC), with a commitment to help Canadians live a better of quality of life and easing the burden for survivors and their families.

"The Congress provides Canada's cardiovascular experts with an essential opportunity to collaborate and share new ideas and approaches to combating heart disease," says Dr. Todd Anderson, the CCC annual meeting chair. "The ideas and collaborations sparked at Congress will have profound impact on the health and lives of so many Canadians and their loved ones."

Monday Oct. 26 Conference Highlights:

Keeping Canada's national pastime alive

Sudden deaths in young athletes are uncommon but devastating events. Many of these individuals have underlying cardiovascular disease that went undiagnosed until after the event. Cardiac screening of athletes may reduce the risk of sudden death but its role remains controversial. A 2009-2014 Toronto study screened young elite male hockey players, who were the top 100 draft choices for the National Hockey League, for cardiac abnormalities. None of the players - who were a median age of 19 - had a history of cardiac disease.

Of the 627 athletes assessed, abnormalities were identified in 18 (2.9%), with bicuspid aortic valve the most common, a number similar to incidence in the general population. One player underwent a surgical procedure and another was excluded from the draft. What does this mean to young Canadian hockey players? While everyone can't be screened, communities can be ready to save lives if the unexpected happens by installing defibrillators (AEDs) in arenas across Canada. Canadians should also get trained in CPR and AED use, to be ready to prevent cardiac arrest from taking a life.

Presented by: Dr. Geraldine Ong, Toronto, ON

Are Canadian teens' eating habits a heart attack waiting to happen?
It's not just what you eat that impacts your health; our mealtime environment could also affect how diet impacts health. A new study of grade 9 Ontario students finds that eating dinner infrequently as a family could be putting them on a road to increased cardiovascular risk. Over four years, Ontario researchers investigated these teens' eating habits and the association it had with their heart health, including eating with family members, buying lunch at school, and eating out at restaurants. Seventeen per cent of the teens were overweight and 14 per cent were obese.

The reality of some of these young students' mealtimes is far from ideal: Close to 10 per cent reported eating dinner with a family member once per week or less. The same percentage of these youth almost always buys their lunch at school. Eating out at a restaurant at least twice per week was reported in more than a quarter of students. Children who ate with family members less frequently also bought their lunch at school and ate at restaurants more often when compared to those who ate with family members more than once a week.

Increased weekly frequency of eating dinner with at least one family member was significantly associated with decreased markers of obesity, improved cholesterol, and improved blood pressure. Overall, eating dinner as a family more frequently was associated with improved heart health. What's more, infrequently eating with family members was associated with 1.5 times increased likelihood of buying lunch at school more often. In addition, children who made a habit of buying lunch at school were far more likely to eat out at restaurants more than three times per week.

Researchers say that these associations may help identify modifiable risk factors regarding adolescent eating behaviours, which may ultimately lead to better heart health as they age.

Presented by: Dr. Michael Khoury, Toronto, ON

Healing damaged hearts with bone marrow stem cells combined with bypass surgery

Ischemic heart disease accounts for 50 per cent of all cardiovascular deaths and is an increasing cause of heart failure. Cell therapy offers novel therapeutic options. In a randomized clinical trial presented at CCC today, researchers assessed the feasibility of using stem cells derived from patients' bone marrow in combination with coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) to treat ischemic cardiomyopathy. This condition, marked by a loss or weakening of heart muscle tissue, is usually caused by heart disease and heart attacks.

The stem cell transplantation combined with bypass surgery resulted in improved heart function and tissue viability. Patients who underwent this procedure had a significant increase of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), a measurement of blood being pumped from the heart which is an important indicator of heart function.

Dr. Manouchehr Madani Civi, Vancouver, B.C.

CCC Featured Research and Late Breaking Clinical Trials: Ground-breaking research presented by three leading investigators of high-profile clinical trials will focus on a unique aspect of their trials from a Canadian perspective. This session will be followed by updates of Late-Breaking Clinical Trials.

"The passion and innovation of Canada's cardiovascular researchers make a true difference to the health and lives of Canadian families," says David Sculthorpe, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Saving a life begins long before a 9-1-1 call is made. It begins with research, which is then moved into health policy and health care."

The Congress is Canada's premier annual cardiovascular learning event, bringing together physicians, researchers, scientists, nurses, technicians, policy makers, and others to connect with colleagues and share the latest scientific research and health information.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. The Congress is being held in Toronto from October 24 to 27. #CCCTO

Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, the largest gathering of cardiovascular and allied health professionals in Canada, is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Society is the national voice for cardiovascular physicians and scientists. Its mission is to promote cardiovascular health and care through knowledge translation, professional development, and leadership in health policy.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through initiatives to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.

Contact Information

  • For daily media tip sheets and/or interviews, contact

    Diane Hargrave
    416-467-9954, ext. 104

    Or the CCC 2015 media office at:
    416-585-3820 x3821 (Oct 24-26)

    After October 27, 2015, contact:
    Jane-Diane Fraser
    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
    (613) 691-4020
    Cell: 613-406-3282