This year’s Federated Health Charities campaign runs from April 3, 2023, to June 30, 2023. During the campaign, we are highlighting how each of our 21 charities works to improve the health and well-being of people across our province.
The 21stand final charity in our spotlight is Heart & Stroke. Since Heart & Stroke was founded in 1962, their efforts have helped reduce the death rate from heart attack, stroke and related diseases by more than 75%, saving thousands of lives. But heart attack, stroke and related diseases are still the leading cause of premature death in Canada, resulting in one death about every five minutes.
About 3.5 million Canadians live with heart disease or stroke, and nine out of every 10 Canadians has at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure, obesity, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and diabetes. As our population continues to age, the number of people at risk or living with heart disease and stroke is only expected to grow.
The good news is that 80% of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. But that only makes the work of Heart & Stroke more urgent.
Heart & Stroke focuses on three key areas: preventing heart disease and stroke, saving lives and promoting recovery. Thanks to the generosity of their donors, in 2022, Heart & Stroke invested $24.2 million in life-saving research and $31 million in advocacy, health promotion and community programs across the country, including Ontario. This included critical work to close the health equity gap in the diagnosis, treatment and care of heart disease and stroke in different communities across Canada so that everyone in Ontario and across Canada can achieve the best possible health outcome.
In particular, Heart & Stroke is working to close the gender research gap in heart and brain health. Historically, two-thirds of all heart disease and stroke research has focused on men. As a result, heart attacks and strokes are often misdiagnosed in women. Half of all women who experience a heart attack have their symptoms missed, which is one of the reasons why heart disease and stroke is the number one cause of premature death for Canadian women. Heart & Stroke is working to change that by empowering women to understand their symptoms and risk for heart disease and stroke; partnering with healthcare professionals to develop new treatment models for heart attack and stroke in women to transform women’s healthcare journey; and ensuring all women in Canada get the healthcare and support they need for optimal brain and heart health. As part of this work, Heart & Stroke has committed to embedding health equity and Indigenous health and reconciliation lenses into each of these priorities to address systemic barriers.
Increasing the public’s awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke is critical to getting people the right care fast. Each minute without oxygen and blood flow to the brain increases the risk of permanent damage and death. An estimated 35,000 cardiac arrests occur in public places and homes across Canada each year. Currently, few people survive but survival rates double if someone performs CPR and uses an automated external defibrillator (AED). That’s why Heart & Stroke is making more Canadians ready to respond to a cardiac emergency with CPR, through training and awareness, and increasing access to AEDs and training people to use them.
More than 100,000 people in Canada will experience a stroke this year. A stroke can change your life in a second. It is a leading cause of death and a major cause of disability for people all across Canada and Ontario. Heart & Stroke is teaching Canadians to recognize the signs of stroke so they can act FAST and call 9-1-1 if they experience any of the symptoms of stroke or witness these signs in someone else: is your Face drooping, can you raise both Arms; is your speech Slurred or jumbled; then it’s Time to call 9-1-1.
Ontario’s public servants have been supporting Heart & Stroke and their fight against heart disease and stroke since 1972. “
“Working with Federated Health Charities allows us to work in collaboration with so many other organizations, but also plays a role in helping to get these important messages out to others,” says Avril Goffredo, Executive Vice President, Fundraising & Marketing, Heart & Stroke. “Eighty percent of heart disease and stroke is actually preventable, and so by being able to actually create awareness of our causes, it also can help prevent the disease as well.”
For Bailey, who was born with congenital heart defects, Heart & Stroke’s mission is personal.
“I’m sure if you really think about it, you know someone who’s been affected by heart disease and stroke,” Bailey says. “That’s why Heart and Stroke is such an important organization because they aim to save lives, they aim to create survivors, and ultimately prevent disease from happening in the first place.”
To learn more about Heart & Stroke, please visit the Heart & Stroke.
To make a payroll pledge or donation to support the Heart & Stroke and Federated Health Charities, please visit Federated Health Charities.