​​​​​​​​​Cathie Singer, a recent graduate of Toronto Rehab's Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program, beat those odds by enrolling in the program shortly after having heart surgery. Participation in a cardiac rehab program can increase life expectancy and contribute to an individual's increased vitality. Cathie has reaped the benefits of cardiac rehab and will now join other graduates and current patients of the program and their family and friends in the 3rd Annual On Track to Recovery Cardiac Rehab and Secondary Prevention Program Walk-a-thon to support innovative and life-enhancing cardiac research. Toronto Rehab's indoor walk-a-thon is a fun event for the whole family and encourages a healthy lifestyle including exercise and good eating habits, measures that can reduce the risk of heart disease in people of all ages.​

Cathie had always been a very active and healthy person, but in May 2004, an angiogram showed that her left coronary artery was 95% blocked. Cathie needed bypass surgery. After her surgery, Cathie enrolled in Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehab program to rebuild her fitness and confidence. Less than a year later, Cathie and her husband celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with a 310-kilmetre bicycling tour of Vietnam. Family, friends and co-workers pledged each kilometre they cycled in Vietnam and the two raised more than $2,300. Cathie will be back on the track again this year to support Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehabilitation program.​​

"I was anxious to start the program to regain my level of fitness. It restored my confidence but I never would have imagined that I would move forward so quickly," says Cathie. "I recovered enough that on the trip, I wasn't any different than the other cyclists. I felt totally normal, totally recovered "ust another one of the group."​

An estimated eight million Canadians, approximately one in four people, live with some sort of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, disease of the blood vessels, or risk factors for stroke or heart attack. However, it is a little known fact that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of not only Canadian men but also the leading cause of death for Canadian women. According to a 2002 Heart and Stroke Foundation study, almost 38,000 women die of cardiovascular disease a year.​​

Participation in a cardiac rehab program can increase a person's life expectancy, increase vitality, and enhance their psychological and emotional health. Yet, women are not enrolling in rehabilitation programs as often as men. According to a study conducted in 2002 by the University Health Network, women are less likely than men to be participating in a rehab program six months after their hospital admission.​​​

The study points to various psychosocial factors that impede women's participation in cardiac rehab and prevention programs including women's domestic or social obligations. Other obstacles to their participation include health issues unique to women with cardiovascular disease or to women at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and issues relating to the lack of referrals to cardiac rehab programs on the part of health care providers.​​

Only 25% of participants in Toronto Rehab's Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program are women. The program enrolls approximately 400 women a year, which is considerably less than the approximately 1200 men who participate yearly.​

"Based on local and national figures for hospitalizations of women who have suffered a cardiac event, we would expect to see the number of women entering cardiac rehab programs double. But we are just not seeing that. We are still seeing a lot more men in our program than women," says Dr. Paul Oh, Medical Director of Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehabilitation program. Patients who participate in cardiac rehab programs reduce their risk of dying by 25% in the first three years following their cardiac event.​

Toronto Rehab is actively working to narrow this gap by developing adjunctive programs to better attract women to the program and better support them through their rehab experience.​​

The funds raised through the 3rd Annual On Track to Recovery Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program Walk-a-thon will go directly to Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehabilitation program to support its innovative and life-enhancing cardiac research. The goal of this year's event is to increase funds raised by 50%. Last year the event raised $50,000.​

For information on how to support the walk-a-thon or to make a donation to Toronto Rehab's Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program​ in support of cardiac research, please visit www.torontorehab.com.​​

The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, one of Canada's oldest and largest property and casualty insurers, is the presenting sponsor of this year's walk-a-thon.​​

The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) is at the forefront of one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today - rehabilitation science. As a fully affiliated teaching and research hospital of the University of Toronto, Toronto Rehab is Canada's largest provider of adult rehabilitation services, complex continuing care, and long-term care. Toronto Rehab is advancing rehabilitation knowledge and practice through research, education and patient care. More information is available at: www.torontorehab.com​

Media Contact: 416 340 4636​

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