National Heart Health Strategy


Canada may be on the verge of something revolutionary in the annals of Western Medicine.

Today, in Ottawa, Dr. Eldon R. Smith, chairman of the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan steering committee, presented the federal government with a  new nationwide strategy aimed at combating heart disease and stroke.

The CHHS-AP plan would cost an estimated$700 million to implement over the next seven years.

However, by 2020, the plan could save Canada’s health care system over$22 billion in direct and indirect costs.

That’s over $30 of savings for every $1 invested in the plan.

And just how do they plan on saving all of those health care dollars?

According to Dr. Smith, “”We need to find ways to have people eat healthier foods, do more exercise, and we need to have less people smoking.”

“We think that with a combination of education, legislation, regulation, as we did for smoking in the past, and perhaps some incentives, that we’ll be able to create better environments for heart health in Canada.”

jaw-drop-genie-alladin<jaw drops to floor>


Promote a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent disease.

What a truly shocking and inspired idea!


The Plan

The plan makes six key recommendations to fight heart disease and stroke, including:

  1. Creating “heart-healthy” environments through education, legislation, regulation and policy.
  2. Helping Canadians lead healthier lives.
  3. Ending the cardiovascular disease crisis within Aboriginal communities.
  4. Continuing to reform health care with improved delivery of patient-centered services.
  5. Improving the surveillance and electronic medical records system to enhance prevention, care and research into vascular diseases.
  6. Developing the right number of health-care service providers with the right education and skills.

Okay, sounds good….a little vague, but good.

“The CHHS-AP will allow us to focus more on prevention, among other key areas, and tackle this health challenge head-on,” said Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, one of three lead organizations involved of the plan.

Still vague.

Seriously, we need some details.


According to the CHHS-AP, implementing this strategy will result in the following benefits:


  • By 2015, working with partners,
    • 20% more Canadians eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day
    • 20% more physically-active Canadians
    • 20% fewer obese or overweight adults
    • fewer obese children (from 8% to 5%)
  • By 2020,
    • decrease annual rate of CV deaths by 25%
    • bring CV diseases burden among Aboriginal/indigenous populations in line with other Canadians
    • decrease prevalence of hypertension in adults by 32%
      • increase awareness by 64% among adults with hypertension
      • Increase by six-fold those hypertension treated to recommended targets
    • decrease (risk adjusted 30-day) hospital mortality rate
      • from heart attacks by 32%
      • from stroke by 25%
    • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of heart failure by 25
    • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of acute stroke by 25%
    • have 90% of Canadians aged 45+ with CV risk assessments
    • decrease (by working with partners) the smoking rate by 25%

The Economy

  • Significant savings in costs of CV diseases by 2020,
    • decrease $7.6 billion in direct costs  (2008 dollars)
    • decrease $14.6 billion in indirect costs (2008 dollars)

Canadians and our Country

  • Canadians will know their CV risk and how to reduce it to lead longer, healthier lives.
  • All regions of the country benefit from more sustainable health care systems.
  • Governments, the health care system, the private sector, communities and individuals work together, making a long-term commitment to change.
  • Patients will be partners in their own health and care.
  • Interprofessional health teams are well equipped to promote health, prevent CV disease, and provide timely, comprehensive, patient-centred care.
  • Canada is internationally recognized as a productive, economically competitive and heart healthy nation.

DETAILS!!!…for the love of god, less rhetoric and more details.

Seriously, two years and $2.5 million to come up with this?


So, where do we go from here?

According to the experts:

What needs to happen?

Work with federal Health Minister Aglukkaq to maintain momentum to:

  • Initiate the processes for change.
  • Develop effective partnerships, within and outside the health sector, to engage citizens, care providers, their professional organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry and the media to enable Canadians to become international leaders in heart health.


Please, somebody give me some details.


Oh, forget it. I ‘ll do it myself.

Here are some of my suggestions for how to spend the $700 million:

  • Tax refunds for participating regularly in exercise programs
  • Tax credits to private health clubs for administrating these exercise programs
  • Tax credits for private individuals organizing fitness clubs
  • Eliminate inequalities in federal food subsidy programs – quit subsidizing grains and soy at the expense of fruits and vegetables
  • Promote local and organic farming practices
  • Promote exercise and fitness – advertising, contests, athletes, amateur competitions
  • Tax credits to grocery chains to supply local and organic foods
  • Also, let’s stop listening to the same “experts” who have been telling us to follow those stupid healthy food pyramids all these years. Let’s talk to the fitness experts in the “real world” who get “real” changes out of their “real” clients in order to pay their “real” bills and keep “real” food on their “real” tables.
  • We should also structure the funding of these programs to encourage results. There will be lots and lots of experts lining up to collect their share of the $700 million. How many of them are willing to guarantee their work? How about we structure the contracts with a balloon payment to be paid at the end of the contract. The amount of that payment could be directly tied to the results that their program achieves.


Any other bright ideas?

And not just my Canadian readers.

Us Canucks are not the only overweight, diabetic, just waiting to have a heart attack, couch potatoes out there.


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  1. Recruit Georges St. Pierre to go around the country encouraging Canadians to get fit, or he beats the snot out of them.

    Or something.

  2. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have reported evidence for a link between Alzheimer’s diseases and chronic heart failure, stemming from studies in animals and humans.
    The team of scientists (more specifically biochemists and cardiologists) from the U.S., Canada, and Italty were led by the researchers from Johns Hopkins in a study that found three changes in the chemical make-up of a key structural protein. The protein, named desmin, was studied in the heart muscle cells of dogs. The build-up of harmful protein is a key in both Alzheimer’s disease and chronic heart failure.

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