Gabriela Melo Ghisi
"The goal is to empower women in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease through informed decision-making and proactive health management,"​ says Dr. Gabriela Melo Ghisi, an affiliate scientist at UHN's KITE Research Institute, and first author of the study.

A new study from UHN's KITE Research Institute has designed comprehensive and personalized cardiovascular rehabilitation resources tailored for women, addressing the unique needs and challenges they face in preventing heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of disability and death in men and women worldwide. Cardiovascular rehabilitation programs provide patient education and care to help reduce the risk of disease.

Despite their benefits, these programs are often under-utilized, particularly among women due to factors such as insufficient referrals, social and cultural barriers, and failure to meet women's unique needs.

To address this gap, a team of researchers led by Dr. Gabriela Melo Ghisi, affiliate scientist at KITE and first author of the study, formed a multi-disciplinary committee of clinical and education experts to design women-focused resources based on the "Cardiac College" rehabilitation program developed at UHN.

"Cardiac College" is an evidence-based patient education program that provides resources for CVD prevention. Although the program included information specific to women, the content needed updating based on more recent research on sex and gender in CVD.

The design process involved a thorough literature review on women's cardiovascular rehabilitation needs and preferences, an assessment of current rehabilitation programs, content development, as well as evaluation and implementation of the developed resources.

The researchers developed resources including websites, videos and session slides covering essential topics such as tests and treatments, exercise, diet, psychosocial well-being and self-management.

"The goal is to empower women in reducing the risk of CVD through informed decision-making and proactive health management," says Dr. Melo Ghisi, who is also an assistant professor in the Physical Therapy Department at the University of Toronto. "This initiative is a significant step towards addressing gender disparities in health education and ensuring that women receive the tools to take charge of their own well-being."

This work was supported by UHN Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Back to Top