New report card rates heart health

Jun 27, 2002, vol. 24, no. 5
By Susan Jamieson-McLarnon

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It's a 2002 version of your old school report card, the one that said “Could do better; more effort required.” Only this time it's an assessment of your heart's health and what you can do to earn straight As or Bs.

A new research project combining a prototype report card (with letter grades), in conjunction with tailored lifestyle counselling, will help people become actively involved in improving their cardiovascular prospects.

Researchers Andrew Wister (left), a Simon Fraser University gerontologist, Nadine Loewen, medical health officer with the Fraser health authority, and Brian McGowan, physician and head of emergency medicine at Burnaby general hospital, lead the team looking for a thousand volunteers to participate in the study for three to four years.

To be eligible you must live in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore, Belcarra, Maple Ridge, New Westminster or Port Moody.

In addition, you must be 45-64 years of age, and deemed to be at moderate or high risk of future cardiovascular disease because you have two or more risk factors (smoker, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, diabetes) or have already experienced some type of cardiovascular disease.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in this area,” says Wister. “We are looking for participants from the 39 per cent of the population, aged 45-64, who are at moderate to high risk of heart disease. The report cards will help people see the most important areas for lowering their risk level and the areas of their lifestyles needing attention, including quitting smoking, changing their diet, getting more exercise and reducing stress.”

Counsellors will work with project participants to reach attainable targets based on evidence-based guidelines.

“We are hoping to encourage participants to become experts in self-managing and modifying their own behaviour, with support from their own family physicians,” adds Wister. “We would really like to follow participants for 10 years to see the benefits that a changed lifestyle can bring.”

The heart health report card project will be setting up information and recruiting kiosks at Burnaby general and Royal Columbian hospitals and in shopping centres such as Metrotown and Lougheed Mall.

Call Bonnie McCoy, 604-412-6492 for dates and details.

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