VANCOUVER - More patients and families have access to specialized heart care, closer to their homes, thanks to an innovative cardiac rehabilitation program that has officially opened in three Vancouver community centres.
Happy Hearts is a community-based program of monitored exercise, nutrition counselling, emotional support and lifestyle change education. It's designed to help patients and their families recover after a heart attack and from other forms of heart disease and surgery and is now offered at the Robert Lee YMCA and the Kensington and Dunbar community centres.
The program was developed by Providence Health Care (PHC) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), in partnership with Cardiac Services BC (an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority), the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, with the primary goal of increasing the number of patients able to benefit from cardiac rehab.
There is growing evidence that immediate access to cardiac rehab for people with heart disease can lower their risk of recurring heart problems and death by up to 30 per cent. Yet only 15 to 30 per cent of cardiac patients are going to rehab.
Traditionally, cardiac rehab programs are located in hospital settings and require patients to return to the hospital two to three times a week. This can be demanding for many heart patients, and they often choose not to go. By offering this program in the community, the participation of patients and families who are seeking convenient, accessible and timely care closer to where they live, work and play is expected to increase.
As well, not all patients attending hospital-based programming truly need the intensity and safety of the hospital program. The new program also helps reduce health-care costs and wait times by keeping people - even the chronically ill and frail elderly - out of hospital, and helping to address problems such as crowded emergency departments and the need for more hospital beds and staff.
Since the Happy Hearts program opened at its first location in late 2009, over 100 patients and their families have undergone total lifestyle makeovers. The program is currently funded to serve up to 250 patients a year and plans are being considered to expand the program throughout B.C.
The Happy Hearts program offers patients a comprehensive, personalized plan, including:
Highly supervised exercise training.
- Medical evaluation
- Nutrition counselling
- Personalized education
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Preventive medications
- Psychological and pharmacological counselling
- Referrals to other medical areas as necessary
- Risk-factor assessment and risk-reduction services
- Smoking cessation counselling
Funding for this program is provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority, VCH and PHC. PHC and VCH cardiac care staff, in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, operate the program.
Chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer, is the largest single burden on the health of British Columbians. Healthy Families BC is the Province's health-promotion and prevention strategy. It is focused on reducing chronic diseases and promoting healthy weights through healthy eating and physical activity. The strategy will see the implementation of a variety of healthy living programs to improve health and promote wellness in every part of B.C.
- Heart disease is the biggest killer of Canadians - an illness that 74,000 die from each year.
- The Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates that eight out of 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
- The Happy Hearts program is appropriate for people with established heart disease or for those with two or more risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, premature family history of heart disease, or chronic kidney disease.
- If you, or someone you know, has experienced a heart event or has multiple risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, speak to your doctor about a referral to this new program.
For more information on the Happy Hearts program including how to join the program, please visit: www.happyheartsvancouver.ca
For more information on Healthy Families BC, visit: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
Ministry of Health communications
250 952-1887 (media line)
Director Communications and Public Affairs
Providence Health Care
604 806-8460 (office)
604 992-2503 (cell)