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Heart Health

A. Ontario Ministry of Health Press Release - Heart Health



TORONTO -- Minister Elizabeth Witmer today launched a five year, $17-million Heart Health program, the largest and most far-reaching cardiovascular disease prevention program in North America.

Developed in partnership with the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Heart Health Program will be delivered province-wide through local public health units with the support of the Ontario Division of the Cancer Society, the Ontario Lung Association and the Ontario Public Health Association.

"The purpose of this program is to raise public awareness of the key lifestyle factors proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Ontario," said Witmer. "Every year this disease claims over 26,000 lives. That's over 35% of all deaths in Ontario from cardiovascular disease alone."

"Health promotion and disease prevention are essential to Ontario's health system," the minister added. "The Heart Health program, created and managed with our health system partners, is a major step towards motivating and supporting people to make the positive changes necessary to protect their health. It is the kind of program our government is developing to prepare our health system for the 21st century and to make our province the best jurisdiction in North America in which to live and raise a family."

The key themes of the $17 million program are: avoiding tobacco use, eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and staying active throughout life. Public Health Units across the province have developed a range of community-based projects that carry this message in ways that reflect local needs and capabilities. Local schools, businesses and workplaces, along with recreation, community centres and other locations will be targeted through the initiative.

While the Heart Health program is aimed at all Ontarians, it pays special attention to convincing young people to avoid tobacco and the impact of cardiovascular disease on women. Contrary to a prevalent

misconception, women are equally at risk of developing cardiovascular disease as men.

"We are all responsible for the health system and how we use it," said Witmer. "The Heart Health program is the most significant investment made by any jurisdiction in North America in cardiovascular disease prevention. This program, undertaken in partnership with local communities, will enable and encourage people to start taking more responsibility for their own health. And most importantly, it will save lives."

"With the Heart Health program the Ontario government is helping lead the way on a vital public health issue," said Rick Gallop, president of the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation. "This program will help make people aware of the fact that cardiovascular disease is, in many cases, a preventable health problem that concerns us all."

Contact: Bill Hawkins, (416) 327-8647 Minister's Office

This news release is available on Website at:

version française disponible


Building Bridges is a one year project of the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) which aims to explore and enhance linkages between food security and heart health initiatives in Ontario. The purpose of this project is to identify existing and proposed linkages and collaborations between heart health and food security and to facilitate the exchange of ideas and collaboration between initiatives.

In recent years, community and health organizations have been actively involved in a variety of food initiatives across the province including community food programs; food and nutrition policy development; and education and skills development programs. Equally important have been

anti-poverty initiatives, employment creation and training, and community economic development to help people secure adequate incomes to purchase food and lead a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, heart health groups and organizations have promoted some of these same activities as heart health strategies. For instance, child nutrition or breakfast programs are seen as opportunities to improve access to food while simultaneously delivering healthy eating messages and teaching children about nutrition. More and more, community food programs and anti-poverty initiatives are being recognized as both food security and heart health strategies -- strategies focused on the socio-economic determinants of health.

Building Bridges would like to work with six community groups across Ontario over a six month period (approximately May to October of 1998) supporting groups in their efforts to link food security and heart health strategies, and to develop "community stories" that can be shared with other groups. To participate in Building Bridges, groups can be focused on either heart health or food security. Groups may be community based groups, health units, community centres, community health centres, coalitions or other types of organizations. As well, groups can be at any stage of project development. Some groups will have begun linking and collaborating, while others may be just starting

to do so. Groups that are selected to participate may receive up to $1800 to cover costs associated with their initiative.

Groups that would like to participate must submit a completed one-page application form by March 9, 1998. For more information about the project, or to receive a copy of the application form, please contact:

Ursula Lipski, Project Coordinator

Building Bridges: Heart Health and Food Security

Ontario Public Health Association

468 Queen Street East, Ste. 202

Toronto, Ontario M5A 1T7

Tel (416) 367-3313 Ext. 31; Fax (416) 367-2844


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Ontario Public Health Association

468 Queen Street East, Ste. 202

Toronto, Ontario M5H 1T7

Phone: (416) 367-331 Fax: (416) 367-2844


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The Heart Health Resource Centre facilitates a discussion list called

Participants can pose questions, post information, exchange ideas and problem-solve on issues related to heart health. This format is monitored by the HHRC. Simply submit your thoughts on programs, processes, partners, etc. and it will be received by everyone else on the list. They can then choose how to respond.

INSTRUCTIONS for Joining the Discussion

1.To subscribe, compose an email message to

2.Type subscribe heart-l in the body of the message. (Important: Leave the subject line blank -- DO NOT fill in the subject line.)

3.To obtain information on how to use the list, send a message to with the word help in the body.

4.To send information to the list particpants, address your email messages to

OR visit the HHRC home page for directions:


1. The regularly produced newsletter "@ heart", available by mail or via the web page.

2. The first two volumes of "Current Heart Health Abstracts" - compilations of approximately 100 abstracts from largely peer-reviewed journals that were published in 1996.

3. Presentation Package on Heart Health (Volume 1) - a kit comprised of masters from which to make overheads, accompanying speakers' notes, and a hand-out Executive Summary (available in both French and English) that highlight the findings from the Final Evaluation of the Ontario Heart Health Action Program.

4. "Our Stories" Heart Health Action Program: The Experiences and Learnings of the Heart Health Action Program Demonstration Sites, November 1996 Available on the HHRC web-site in publications:

Download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader and view the complete report, available in PDF (1730 Kb) or zipped PDF (540 Kb).

5. The Heart Health Action Program Final Evaluation Report, December 1995 - Executive Summary

6. Heart Health Action Program Preliminary Report: Lessons Learned from the Early Development of the Five Demonstration Projects, 1995

7. The Heart Health Action Program Final Evaluation Report, December 1995

8. Celebrating Change Heart Health Action Program Proceedings of the Heart Health Showcase, February 1995


This 62 page report of the 1997 Heart Health event "Partnering for Heart Health" held September 26, 1997, is a wealth of information, resources, program descriptions, contacts and more. The concurrent sessions on Food Industry, Workplace Heart Health and School-based Heart Health provide a valuable insight into the many accomplishments of heart health coalitions over past years, and some directions that new initiatives may be taking. If you were not at this event, consider requesting a copy of these proceedings - they would be a valuable addition to any health promotion program planning venture.

To get print copies of the above items, contact:

Heart Health Resource Centre

468 Queen Street East, Suite 202, Toronto, ON M5A 1T7

416-367-3313 ext. 32 (Angella) or 1-800-463-0461

Send email request to Be sure to include the publication name and your postal address.

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1. Web-site:

Take a look at the new Heart & Storke Foundation of Ontario's web-site - full of information, links, news, resources, programs and contacts. Of note is the link to the affiliated site for health care professionals. As well the following two items are highlighted on this lively, graphic web-site - the Healthline and Events Calendar.

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Heart & Stroke Healthline is a free information resource service for Ontario residents who need information on heart disease, stroke, and healthy lifestyles. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Heart & Stroke Healthline puts a vast inventory of over 450 fact sheets, pamphlets, brochures, newsletters and other products at your fingertips.

For a sample of what Heart & Stroke Healthline can offer you, browse through the A to Z Glossary on the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada web site (

Ontario residents can obtain Healthline information by:

Mail - Heart & Stroke Healthline P.O. Box 3706, Stn. Industrial Park,

Markham, Ontario L3R 9Z9

Phone - 1-800-360-1557 (local Toronto 416-631-1557)

Fax - 905-479-8665

Email -

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from Heart & Stroke Fdn. Ontario web-site:

Thunder Bay Early March,1998

Women, Heart Disease and Stroke Luncheon

Thunder Bay, Late March - Tag Days

Contact: Thunder Bay Office (807) 623-1118

West Carlton - March 22,1998

Heart Smart Skills Workshop

Contact: Renfrew Office (613)591-9388

Metro Toronto Convention Centre

March 25,1998 7:30-9:00a.m.

4th annual Women Heart Disease and Stroke Breakfast

Contact: Toronto Area Office (416) 489-7100

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1. TAKE HEART Coalition

A collaborative effort to promote community awareness of heart healthy choices, and to create a supportive environment to encourage behaviour changes throughout Northwestern Ontario. The Take Heart Steering Committee consists of 7 community partners interested in raising awareness of the importance of heart healthy lifestyles. The initial objectives of this committee are to:

1. Develop a Take Heart Network

2. Develop a strategy to mobilize the community of Thunder Bay

3. Actively seek out partnerships and collaboration in Northwestern Ontario

The Steering Committee includes:

* Active Living Community Action Project - community facilitator Anne Ostrom (807) 473-9179

* City of Thunder Bay Community Recreation Division - "accessible, affordable active living" call (807) 625-2351

* Heart & Stroke Foundation Ontario Health Promotion programs - call (807) 623-1118

* Lakehead University Hearts for Life - contact Darlene Steven & Rhonda Kirk-Gardner (807) 343-8395

* Ogden-East End Community Health Centre - contact Alison McMullen (807) 622-8235

* Thunder Bay Regional Hospital Cardiac Education - contact (807) 343-6686

* Thunder Bay District Health Unit - contact Maureen Twigg, chair Take Heart SC (807) 625-5923

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Fit Week took place in Thunder Bay Jan. 26 - Feb 2, just one of the events organized the Heart and Stroke Foundation in recognition of Heart Month in February. The local chapter of the organization kicked off the month-long fundraiser with canvassers going door-to-door in attempts to raise more than $40,000. John Garland is President of the local branch of the foundation and says donations are vital for heart and stroke research, as well as for boosting awareness of heart disease. In addition to door-to-door canvassing and Fit Week, the organization held a Dress Red Day February 13th in efforts to raise funds.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario says the death rate due to heart disease in the Thunder Bay district is 36% higher than the provincial average. They agency wants to know why, so it's funding a study.The Heart and Stroke Foundation has committed $600,000 to examine why the Thunder Bay District and 12 other areas in Ontario have higher rates of heart disease. The upcoming study will look at the impact on death rates of a variety of factors including the availability of community health services, environmental factors and a person's general state of health. It will take two years to gather the data. Tara Monteith of the Thunder Bay HSF hopes the results will help the Heart and Stroke Foundation fine-tune its health promotion programs.

[from the Thunder Bay Source -]


1186 Roland Street, Suite 300

Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5M4

Tel: (807) 623-1118 Fax: (807) 622-9914

F. Two Articles of Interest for Heart Health Coalitions

1. Goldstein, SM "Community Coalitions: A Self Assessment Tool" American Journal of Health Promotion 1997: 11 (6) 430-435

Of these two articles in the same issue of the Am J of HP, this one offers a very useful tool for [heart health & other] community coalitions to evaluate (or assess themselves) their members participation, leadership, structure, processes and development. Detailed checklists are included in the article, which several Ontario coalitions have used in workshops and have seen as applicable to their

activities. The health promotion staff from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control developed this self-assessment questionnaire to be used by coalitions to define and assess successful coalitions and determine the need for technical assistance.

2. Stryker LA, Foster LS, et al "Steering Committee Enhancements on Health Promotion Program Delivery" American Journal of Health Promotion 1997: 11 (6) 437-440

Steering committees are always seen as important for implementing community or worksite health promotion programs, but little research has established what makes steering committees successful. This article looks at worksite heart health programs [called "Take Heart"] steering committees, and based on lessons learned a a first set of programs, these commitees were given a list of guidelines to improve their effectiveness. They were given suggestions on recruiting active committee members and facilitating meetings. They were advised to start with packaged activities and provided with guidance in managing kick-off activities. They were also provided with how-to guides on all activity offerings, advised to start with upbeat activities, and encouraged to include exercise activities. As well, they were advised to link to local voluntary agencies (!!) and to use a questionnaire for employee feedback. As a result, they had better attendance at meetings, implemented their programs sooner, coordinated a higher percent of their own programs and offered more tobacco control activities than previously.

There are lessons here for any steering committee or community coalition! Good resource.