Toronto Rehab introduces Heart Health for Life

Toronto (Nov. 11, 2008) - Eva Bell survived the quadruple bypass. She endured the challenges and successes of cardiac rehabilitation where she received support and motivation while learning all of the tools needed to live a heart-healthier lifestyle. After she graduated from the program, she found herself asking "So, now what?"

Cardiac rehabilitation experts at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) have created Heart Health for Life to address the need for continued support for people like Bell. Heart Health for Life is a support program that encourages graduates of Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention program to maintain a life-long commitment to their heart health after they leave the formal rehabilitation program.

"Graduates of the cardiac rehab program are taught lifestyle changes that are vital to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle after a heart attack, heart surgery or to combat heart disease," says Dr. Paul Oh, Medical Director of Toronto Rehab's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. "We realized that it wasn't enough to teach these lifestyle changes if people were simply going to fall back into their old routines after graduating from the program, thereby increasing their risk of additional heart events."

Presented by Scotiabank, the Heart Health for Life program will be officially launched today, November 12 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Toronto Rehab's Rumsey Centre. The program provides graduates and their families online educational tools, access to community resources and information about local peer support programs.

Bell underwent the quadruple bypass in 2007 after being diagnosed with coronary artery disease. "It was a very frightening time and I thought I would never be the same again physically," she recalls. "I was taught what I needed to do to improve my health after the surgery, but it is hard to stay motivated once you leave the program and lose contact with the staff and friends you meet who are going through a similar experience. Heart Health for Life is important because it provides tools that will help me maintain my new lifestyle and connects me with a good support system of staff and peers. It is always easier to do things when you feel encouraged in your efforts."

Scotiabank has invested $300,000 in the Heart Health for Life program. This support will help the program reach out in new and exciting ways to thousands of graduates and will allow the program to evolve over the next three years.

"Heart disease affects us all, and Scotiabank is delighted to support Toronto Rehab's efforts to help graduates of their celebrated cardiac rehab program to continue living heart-healthy lives," says Jeff Bartja, Scotiabank District Vice-President, Toronto Central.

More than 40,000 people have graduated from Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention program since its creation in 1968. This is the largest outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program of its kind in North America and the people who participate in it are recovering from various forms of heart disease and/or surgery or are doing their best to manage multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

"Thanks to Scotiabank's generous support, we're ready to launch this great initiative that will allow us to help cardiac rehab patients to remain motivated and continue living heart-healthy lives after graduating from the program," says Dr. Oh. "Heart Health for Life will make a real difference for many of our graduates."

Toronto Rehab encourages all graduates of the cardiac rehabilitation program, those who need help to recover from cardiac events and anyone who thinks they or a loved one may be at risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack to contact Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehabilitation program at 416 597 3422 ext. 5200.

Please visit heart health for life for more information about our cardiac rehabilitation programs.

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