Toronto (Feb. 18, 2007) - RoseAnn Pacheco is angry with herself for ignoring her health for the last 30 years. Now widowed with three grown children and a rewarding career in healthcare, RoseAnn is trying to make the management of her diabetes a priority in her life. After being diagnosed with Type II diabetes a year ago, RoseAnn decided she needed to take charge of her health and reduce her risk of developing and dying from a heart attack or stroke.

"I was actually quite angry with myself. Being a nurse, I should have known better. I wasn't eating properly. I wasn't doing enough exercise and my weight was going up. I should have been on top of that and I wasn't," says RoseAnn.

RoseAnn enrolled last fall in the Diabetes Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle Service at Toronto Rehab's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Program, and has experienced an increase in her energy, her strength and her endurance while exercising. On Saturday, February 17, 2007, RoseAnn will join current and former patients of Toronto Rehab's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Program and their friends and family for the Toronto Rehab Foundation's 4th annual On Track to Cardiac Recovery fundraising walk in support of the program's diabetes service and diabetes related 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.

Diabetes is a progressive disease, and a difficult one to manage, even after diagnosis. Diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications.

"When diabetes is left uncontrolled, the risk of developing complications like cardiovascular diseases, the most common complication of diabetes, is a serious threat to a woman's health," says Catherine Statton, Program Coordinator for the Diabetes Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle Service. "A lot of women juggle so many things that their health often takes a back seat. This is the worst situation to be in if you have diabetes because you cannot bank your health and get back to it later."

"We all think, well, I'm 50, I'm 60, it's too late. What's going to happen will happen. But you can actually reverse some of the damage that's happened. And you can certainly prevent anything that might happen from happening. It's never too late to start," says RoseAnn.

Patients attending Toronto Rehab's diabetes service learn how to safely and effectively make exercise part of their daily routines and how to make the lifestyle modifications necessary to take control of their disease and of their lives.

"As a way to better manage their health, we help women with diabetes develop strategies and coping styles so that exercise can more easily fit into their very busy lives," says Catherine. "In addition to coming to Toronto Rehab once a week, we encourage our patients to set aside time for a walk or to meet other women to exercise together during the week."

According to preliminary results of a diabetes and exercise study conducted by Toronto Rehab researchers and clinicians, patients with diabetes who adhered to the structured exercise program saw improvements in their blood sugar levels, their cardiovascular endurance, and they lost weight.

"This program forced me to realize that if I don't take care of myself then I'm not helping my children because I'm giving them bad examples and if I don't take care of myself, I may not be there for them. You've got to make the time. It has really, really helped me."

The Toronto Rehab Foundation along with a volunteer committee of former patients, have set a fundraising goal of $100,000 for the 2007 On Track to Cardiac Recovery. In the past four years, this event has raised close to $165,000 for cardiac rehab research.

For information on how to support the walk or to make a donation to Toronto Rehab's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Program in support of the program's diabetes service and diabetes related research, please visit the Toronto Rehab Foundation.

The presenting sponsor of the Toronto Rehab Foundation's 4th annual On Track to Cardiac Recovery fundraising walk is the Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, one of Canada's oldest and largest property and casualty insurers.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) is at the forefront of one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today and 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.

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