Advisory: Give yourself extra time when travelling by car to Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, or Toronto Rehab University Centre. City of Toronto construction on University Ave. may cause delays.
At UHN, we strive to deliver Compassionate Care & Caring. Learn more about the services and supports that are available to you throughout your journey.
Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians,
staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make
the most of our resources.
At the heart of everything we do at UHN are our Healthcare Professionals. Refer a patient to one of our 12 medical programs. Learn more about the resources and opportunities available for professional growth.
University Health Network has grown to be one of the largest research and teaching hospital networks in Canada - pioneers in improving the lives of patients. Our long history of health professions education at Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab hospitals has consistently advanced the science of education.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international
source for discovery, education and patient care.
Being touched by illness affects us in different ways. Many people want to give back to the community
and help others. At UHN, we welcome your contribution and offer different ways you can help so you can find one that suits you.
The Newsroom is the source for media looking for information about UHN or trying to connect with one
of our experts for an interview. It's also the place to find UHN media policies and catch up on our news stories, videos, media releases,
podcasts and more.
Conni Kostuik's heart attack wasn't like those you see in the movies.
She didn't have intense chest pain, she didn't grab her heart and she didn't collapse.
For Conni, the first sign was nausea, then a faint tingling in her hands.
"I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was," she explains. "I later learned at Cardiac Rehab that women often experience different heart attack symptoms than men."
Within minutes of arrival, paramedics confirmed that Conni had a medium-sized heart attack.
Women's heart health
"I was so not expecting to have a heart attack," Conni recalls. At 58, she was in good health: she didn't smoke, she ate well, and she had no symptoms prior to the event.
Women's heart attacks often mirror the one Conni experienced, says Joan Kitchen, Cardiac Rehabilitation Supervisor at the UHN Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program at the Toronto Rehab site .
"Women's symptoms tend to be much subtler than men's," she explains. "For women, the number one symptom is fatigue and an upset stomach. These are vague symptoms and they sometimes get missed."
At the UHN Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program and its two sites (Toronto Rehab Rumsey Centre and Toronto Western Hospital) women's-only classes are offered to uniquely meet the needs of women with cardiovascular disease. Kitchen runs one of the women's-only cardiac rehab programs at the Toronto Rehab site. Called
Women with Heart, it caters cardiac rehabilitation, education and lifestyle changes specifically to women. The program teaches patients about some nuances specific to women's health.
Women also have the option of attending a co-ed program, which Kitchen facilitates as well. But the two classes are different, she explains.
"One observation I have noticed is that when the class is co-ed, women don't ask as many questions," she says. "When they're in the women's program, the breadth and depth of their questions are much greater. They feel safe. I love that part of it."
Conni started attending cardiac rehabilitation sessions a few months after her heart attack.
At the program, she says she immediately felt welcomed and supported.
"The environment was so nurturing," Conni remembers. "It was all about women's health and that really made a difference to me."
The program offered her a supervised exercise plan and helped her set goals with her physical fitness.
On top of that, Conni had access to classes specific to what she was interested in and needed most.
"We tailor the programs – both the women's-only and the co-ed programs – to each individual patient's needs," explains Kitchen.
A session with a dietitian taught Conni about how people can connect eating with their emotions, and how she could improve her calcium intake. After a sleep stress course, Conni took a sleep study and found out she had sleep apnea.
"I always thought I was an excellent sleeper – but it turns out I used to wake up about 140 times a night," she says. Equipped with a Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, Conni now feels "100 per cent better."
For six months, Conni continued to attend the weekly cardiac rehabilitation sessions and attended women's counselling sessions where patients can talk informally about their experiences, symptoms and progress.
"I have friends in my life but most of them have not had heart attacks so they have a different kind of listening for health," Conni says. "It's wonderful to know people that have shared something with you who can sometimes empathize better than anyone else."
Now that she's finished the cardiac rehabilitation program, Conni goes back for a 'graduate' course – the On-Track program.
"Continuing to go to the On-Track program where there is someone there that could help me if I ever get in trouble is such a relief," she explains.
The programs at TR and the education they've offered to Conni is a large part of why she says she feels more certain in her heart health than she did right after her heart attack.
Kitchen says that's something she often notices in patients who attend cardiac rehabilitation: "Patients' confidence goes up and their anxiety levels go down."
"Cardiac rehab gives them back their lives."