Canada's First Womenheart Support Program Launches in Victoria

February 2, 2012

VICTORIA – Heart disease is the number one killer of women in Canada, taking more lives than all cancers combined. While expert resources exist to discuss risk factors, signs, symptoms and the effects of lifestyle choices, there were no local support groups for women living with heart disease, until now.

When VIHA nurse Rose Lopetrone was diagnosed with coronary artery disease in 2010, she decided to change her life, and set about helping other women with heart disease change their lives as well. With a background as a cardiac care nurse, Rose was surprised when she couldn’t find a local support group for women in her situation. She connected with the US-based WomenHeart, and was the only Canadian selected to attend the group’s symposium at the Mayo Clinic in October.

“For the first time since receiving my diagnosis I was able to share my experience with other women,” she says. “Even as a former cardiac nurse I learned new things about heart disease. It is totally different when you are looking at it as a patient instead of a caregiver.”

With support from VIHA and Health Minister Michael de Jong, Rose is launching the very first WomenHeart Support Network in Canada at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

“This is a great opportunity to provide women living with heart disease with direct peer to peer support and education,” said Minister de Jong. “This support network has been so successful and well received in the US, that it only makes sense to try their model here.”

“Women have different risk factors and warning signs associated with heart disease than men,” said Catherine Hodgins, VIHA Director of Heart Health. “Awareness about risks, warning sign and prevention and treatment options are critical to defend against heart attack and/or stroke, and WomenHeart is dedicated to promoting awareness, education and support.”

The WomenHeart program at RJH will be available to support women living with heart disease. Individual and group meetings will take place monthly on the 3rd Wednesday of each month beginning February 15th 2012. Check out the WomenHeart website for more information on the program, or email Rose at WH-BritishColumbia@womenheart.org.

For more information about heart disease and stroke, visit: www.heartandstroke.com

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For more information please contact:
Shannon Marshall
VIHA Communications