Toronto (Feb. 11. 2001) - The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Program today received $530,000 in new funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to expand services and to launch one of 17 provincial pilot projects to coordinate and evaluate access and delivery of cardiac rehabilitation services in Ontario.

The announcement, made today by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Elizabeth Witmer at Toronto Rehab's University Centre, was part of a $9.6 million Ministry initiative to enhance and expand cardiac rehabilitation services and to assess a new province-wide service delivery model proposed by the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario.

The new funds will enable Toronto Rehab to increase the number of people admitted to its Cardiac Rehab Program each year. Currently about 1,600 patients a year are admitted to the outpatient program located at Toronto Rehab's Rumsey Centre. By 2003, admissions are expected to increase by about 25% to approximately 2,000 a year.

"This is indeed good news for people recovering from various forms of heart disease and surgery," said Dr. Gaetan Tardif, Vice President of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at Toronto Rehab.

According to Dr. Tardif, the evidence is unequivocal. "Comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention saves lives. It reduces the incidence of subsequent cardiac events and the need for re-hospitalization. Rehab also improves the overall quality of life for heart patients after their cardiac event," says Dr. Tardif.

As one of six designated coordinating centres for cardiac rehabilitation services in Ontario, Toronto Rehab will work with other Toronto teaching and community hospitals, as well as with community agencies and providers - including the Toronto District Health Council and the Greater Toronto Area Rehabilitation Network - to develop a comprehensive inventory of cardiac rehab services, and to link and coordinate services within the region.

"Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that people in need of cardiac rehabilitation have access to timely and seamless inpatient and ambulatory rehab services across the service region," said Dr. Tardif.

Toronto Rehab's pioneering Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Program is North America's largest outpatient cardiac rehab program for people recovering from various forms of heart disease and/or surgery - including heart transplantation. Almost 25,000 patients have been treated since the program was established in 1968.

The program, which is delivered by an interprofessional team of specialists, is based on a scientifically proven and medically supervised course of exercise, education and lifestyle modification aimed at providing patients with the information, motivation and support they need to adopt and maintain heart-healthy habits for the rest of their lives. The program aims to limit the physiological effects of cardiac illness and to improve overall cardiovascular fitness and health.

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