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Media Advisory – Canadian Cardiovascular Congress gathers leading heart experts in Montreal to discuss latest research innovations

MONTRÉAL, Oct. 24, 2019 /CNW/ –

WHAT: Cardiology experts from Canada and around the world converge in Montreal to brainstorm strategies to eradicate the impact of heart disease, showcase the latest research breakthroughs, and hear hundreds of speakers‘ highlight innovations in prevention, treatment, and recovery. Congress delegates return home to their research labs and practices armed with new tools and knowledge that will help prevent heart disease and save lives.

WHY: Heart disease is the second leading cause of death and disability in Canada, impacting millions of people, their families and caregivers. Every 10 minutes someone in Canada dies from heart disease.

WHERE: Palais des congrès de Montréal, Montréal, Québec 

WHEN: Oct. 24 to 27, 2019.  Interviews available now through Saturday, Oct 26, including onsite in Montreal.


  • Leading heart experts: Available to talk about the impact of heart disease, why it matters to all people in Canada, and give highlights of the research discoveries and innovations being presented at the 2019 Congress.
  • Congress researchers and presenters: The presenters featured below are available to talk about their presentations and impactful work in the area of heart health. Heart & Stroke experts will also be available at the media room for interviews on a range of subjects, including hands-on CPR, “Restart a Heart” initiative, our new Research section on our website, and more.


Heart/Brain Connection

1.  The heart, brain and mind are inextricably connected. They work together and are dependent on each other. A new in-depth analysis by Heart & Stroke of the interconnections among cardiovascular disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment has revealed that the relationship is much stronger and more complex than previously thought, and the impact of the connections on the already overloaded health system —and on people’s lives —is profound. This session will explore the existing challenges in prevention and disease management among people in Canada at risk or living with multiple heart and brain-related conditions. Participants will discuss the role the cardiovascular community —researchers, healthcare providers, policy makers and people affected by these diseases —will need to play to improve our scientific knowledge, care delivery models, and facilitate sustainable change for people with these conditions.

Moderators: Patrice Lindsay, Cindy Yip, Heart & Stroke
Plenary time: Friday, October 25, 2019, 2-3 p.m.

2.  Psychological factors worsen cognitive functioning for women with coronary artery disease in this five-year study, conducted by Montreal Heart Institute/Psychology Department and Université de Montréal. In the study, which looked at men and women with coronary artery disease, greater stress and overall psychological burden (e.g., depression, anxiety) predicted significantly more cognitive deficits in women than men. The investigators recommend further study to examine whether interventions targeting psychological factors can limit future cognitive decline.

Presenter: Bianca D’Antono, Université de Montreal
Time of presentation: Thursday, Oct 24, 2019, 3:30 p.m.

Women’s Health

3.  Women are different. Cardiovascular disease is a leading killer of women in North America, and a significant cause of premature death for women in Canada, taking 25,000 lives per year – more than any other diagnosis. Heart attacks are more deadly for women, and women are more likely to suffer a second heart attack than men, yet the majority of heart disease clinical research is based on men. Women continue to be under-researched, under-diagnosed, under-treated, under-supported and under-aware of their risks.  Until this research gap is closed, healthcare professionals will not have a clear understanding of women’s cardiovascular health and their risk factors. This session will articulate the role of the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance to address sex unique disparities in cardiovascular health. The session will also discuss Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) which research shows is the underlying cause for 25% of all heart attacks in women under 60. About 90% of SCAD patients are women, and almost all are young and otherwise healthy

Workshop co-chairs: Sharon Mulvagh, Dalhousie University and April Pike, Memorial University
Workshop time: Sunday, October 27, 2019, 9-10 a.m.

4.  Socioeconomic factors may be why women in America fare less well than women in Canada after pregnancy-related disease of the heart muscle. In a study led by Stanford University, American women of African heritage improved and recovered less well than women in Canada of African heritage from peripartum cardiomyopathy – a heart disease that can occur in pregnant women and recent mothers. In this disease, enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle makes pumping blood more difficult, leading to heart failure. The investigators sought to evaluate whether the association between African ancestry and prognosis differs among countries with different healthcare systems (the women were from Stanford Hospital and a Quebec hospital network). The differences merit further exploration to examine if the association between African ancestry and poor prognosis is related to physiological factors associated with the condition or socioeconomic factors unique to Canada.

Presenter: Maxime Tremblay-Gravel, Université de Montréal
Time of presentation: Thursday, October 24, 2019, 1:30 p.m.

5.  Female sex and medication costs reduce success of smoking cessation programs. This study followed 233 patients who reported smoking daily for over 20 years. All patients attended a smoking cessation clinic at least twice over the study period, received individualized medical counselling and if necessary, were prescribed medication. The investigators considered age, sex, presence of medical conditions (comorbidities), total number of visits, medication affordability and use of varenicline (a prescription medication to help with smoking cessation). Presence of comorbidities (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease/aortic disease, stroke/transient ischemic attack, lung disorders, depression/anxiety, cannabis use) were similar across the group and did not play a major role in patients’ success. While total number of visits to the clinic and varenicline use were associated with higher rates of success, being female and medication affordability were the predictors of lack of success. This evidence supports the use of smoking cessation clinics for patients with cardiovascular disease and comorbidities – and points to a need to better understand sex-specific needs.

Presenter: Carolina Gonzaga-Carvalho, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto
Presentation time: Saturday, October 26, 2019, 12:15 p.m.

Children’s Health

6.  Female babies born to mothers with maternal hypertension are more at risk of fetal heart changes and heart muscle disease later in life. Maternal hypertension (high blood pressure) and preeclampsia affect one in 10 pregnancies worldwide, accounting for 25% of all preterm births and low birth weight. Maternal hypertension is suspected of having extended impact on the fetal heart and the development of heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy in the offspring. This study demonstrated, for the first time, the feasibility of using fetal and postnatal echocardiography to assess the programming of cardiomyopathy in mice. Further, it showed that maternal hypertension and preeclampsia can induce significant fetal heart remodeling changes that can persist into adulthood in offspring, and in females only, into an accelerated programming of cardiomyopathy.

Presenter: Mariane Bertagnolli, Hôpital Sacré-Cœur
Presentation Time: Friday, October 25, 2019, 3:45 p.m.

7.  Active video games get your kids moving, but children lose interest quickly. Children spend an average of 1-3 hours per day playing video games, mostly sitting. However, some “active” video games require children to dance, fight, play sports or exercise in order to play. In this study of 20 children aged 8 to 16, the majority preferred video games over outdoor activity and preferred their favourite games over the active games supplied by the investigators (Kung Fu and Dance Central). The investigators concluded that active video games can provide moderate to vigorous physical activity and are enjoyable. However, children prefer mostly sedentary games and interest in any particular game is fleeting. To address this, the gaming industry needs to act socially responsibly by incorporating physical activity into their games and governments should support this.

Presenter:Luis Altamirano-Diaz , Western University, London, Ontario
Presentation Time: Thursday, October 24, 2019, 12 noon

8.  “They won’t let me play.” Despite the evidence that physical activity is important, children with congenital heart disease (CHD) are insufficiently active. In this study, children with CHD had trouble keeping up with others and were often socially excluded from physical activity settings. This exclusion engendered self-conscious emotions of embarrassment, shame, and envy, and loneliness and isolation, thereby negatively impacting activity involvement. Socioeconomic status underpinned the participants’ experiences; some families had resources to access inclusive physical activity programming, while others had trouble finding affordable options which denied their children opportunities to participate in safe and enjoyable activities.

Presenter: Erica Bennett, University of British Columbia
Presentation Time: Thursday, October 24, 2019, 12:15 p.m.

9.  When pediatric success with congenital heart disease leads to adult heart failure. Dramatic evolution in the medical and surgical care of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) has led to a growing number of adults with late-onset complications, including heart failure. Heart failure is an important cause of mortality in adults with congenital heart disease and creates pyscho-social challenges for young adults. Recognition and assessment of its severity is challenging even more so in this population.

Co-Chairs:  Brian Clarke, University of Calgary and Kim Anderson, Dalhousie University
Presenters include: Anique Ducharme, Université de Montréal
Presentation Time, Friday, October 25, 2019, 2-3:30 p.m.

Sports & Fitness

10.  Workshop: Cardiac screening is needed to reduce sudden cardiac death in athletes. Currently, there is a lack of training in the area of sports cardiology provided to both cardiology residents and trainees of other disciplines involved in the care of athletes. With sudden cardiac death as the leading medical cause of death among competitive athletes, increased knowledge of sports cardiology and a multidisciplinary cardiovascular care team approach is essential to ensure the health and safety of athletes across Canada. Healthcare professionals working with athletes must be informed and educated on how to effectively screen for cardiac conditions. The focus of this workshop is to disseminate the Shared Decision-Making approach as detailed in the Canadian Cardiovascular Society/Canadian Heart Rhythm Society Joint Position Statement to educate health professionals on the identification and management of at-risk athletes, particularly those with abnormalities relating to sudden cardiac death, using a non-binary approach.

Chair: Amer Johri, Queen’s University
Presenters: Paul Dorian, University of Toronto and Anne Fournier, Université de Montréal
Workshop Time: Friday, October 25, 2019, 9-10 a.m.

11.  Traditional exercise routines are best for coronary patients. Many athletes believe that the sequence of specific activities in their training programs can help them achieve peak performance. In this study, the investigators looked at two different approaches to coronary patients’ exercise routines to determine best practices for optimal health – a linear approach which is proposed by most guidelines, and a non-linear approach (introducing more variation). More variation (non-linear) did not provide added health benefits. In fact, the linear approach was considered optimal.

Presenter: Mathieu Gayda, Université de Montréal
Presentation time: Friday, October 25, 2019, 3:45 p.m.

Heart Failure

12.  The human spirit is the only current cure for heart failure. As patients, living successfully with heart failure (HF) is not simply a function of the quality of care we receive, or of the data our clinicians use to make decisions, but it lies in our ability to understand, engage in, and act on the advice and treatments our clinicians provide. Stories often told around the continuum of heart failure care usually begin with the devastation a diagnosis has – physically, emotionally, psycho-socially, economically – for patients and family caregivers. This first of its kind workshop for CCC, developed and led by patients and family caregivers, will help practitioners, researchers, and clinicians comprehend the social, psychological and economic impacts of living with heart failure and empathize with the complexity of the lived experience – from diagnosis through transplant – and recognize what they can do to assist in the shared journey we all face.

Workshop Chair: Jillianne Code, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia; President, HeartLife Foundation
Workshop Time: Saturday, October 26, 2019, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

SOURCE Heart and Stroke Foundation

For further information: Maxime Bélanger,, M: 1 438-989-4391

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