Congratulations to all of my friends who did the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Ride for Heart this weekend, cycling up to 75 km along Toronto’s DVP and Gardiner to raise money for heart-disease and stroke research.
You’re all awesome! I can’t wait to join you next year!
After months of managing other editors’ blogs on Chatelaine.com, Dayna Boyer, Marlene Rego and I felt maybe it was time to start our own.
Working as an online editor is all about being adaptable. As web editors we’re involved in developing everything from cooking videos to fashion stories. And now we can take you along with us as we film videos, track down clothes for photo shoots, conduct celebrity interviews and attend press events.
We’re also excited to get to know you better and learn what you’d love to see more of on our site.
Because we just happen to be launching this blog as Toronto Fashion Week is coming to an end, I have to fill you in on the Heart Truth fashion show I attended on Tuesday, which is held to raise awareness for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Heart Truth campaign and to celebrate Canadian design. And besides, who doesn’t love a great red dress?
The show was tons of fun and I spotted lots of Canadian celebs and designers. Plus there were a few Chatelaine cover girls on the runway.
They included: Natalie Brown, Monika Schnarre, Cassie Campbell and of course sassy Tara Spencer-Nairn, who flipped up her red Damzels in this Dress number at the end of the runway to show off her undies!
Everyone had fun bouncing down the runway. Marilyn Denis pulled up some of the men in the crowd to dance with as she went, Cathy Jones looked fabulous in a Thien Le dress with an animal print underside, and Sass Jordan was looking sassy in beautiful strapless Pink Tartan.
The show also featured red dresses designed by Mark Belford, Evan Biddell, Joeffer Caoc, Farley Chatto, Wayne Clark, Greta Constantine, David Dixon, Eugenia, Fashion Crimes, Freda’s, Jay Godfrey, Paul Hardy, Pat McDonagh, Lucian Matis, Nada, Andy Thê Anh and Carlie Wong.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation picked the red dress as their symbol of a celebration of women and heart health awareness. Chatelaine was delighted to sponsor the show and many of the audience members donned their best red outfits to show their support as well.
While the show’s obviously over for this year, you can still show your support by purchasing a Red Dress pin, at your local Heart and Stroke Foundation Office or through their online order form. 100 percent of net proceeds go towards the campaign.
Visit the Heart Truth website for all the pics from the runway.
Fewer women than men go to their doctors when they’re experiencing heart trouble, one of the shocking truths we learned while researching our heart health story in the March issue of Chatelaine.
Recently, I spoke to Paul Oh, the medical director of the Toronto Rehab Hospital, who said that fewer women also end up in rehab after having heart trouble, one of the reasons they launched a new program for women:
Why develop a heart program specifically for women?
Awareness of the heart problems that women face is increasing in the medical community. These problems aren’t new — we just haven’t recognized them in the past. Women haven’t recognized heart disease in themselves, and physicians haven’t recognized heart disease in women. Now that we’ve realized that women suffer heart disease in the same numbers as men do, we have lost time to make up for.
Can you give me a sense of how many women undergo rehab, compared to men?
In hospitals, 40 to 45 percent of heart-disease patients are female, but only 20 to 30 percent of those patients seek rehab. A recent study showed that a higher number of women than men withdraw from cardiac rehab programs due to external reasons, such as family obligations or a busy schedule.
Why is rehabilitation so important after a heart attack or with heart disease?
Heart disease takes many years to develop. It doesn’t happen overnight. And while we can’t cure it, we can halt its progression through lifelong lifestyle interventions, such as exercise and healthy eating — research shows that we can cut the chances of dying from heart disease by half. Rehab helps patients regain strength and fitness; it educates them about the changes they need to make in their lives to stay healthy. A patient will typically spend six months to a year in rehab, where they’ll follow an exercise routine, learn to cook healthy food and attend seminars about upgrades in medications, the latest research about heart disease, nutrition, the importance of sleep on cardiac health — you name it.
What is the goal of the new “Women For Heart” program?
We want women with heart problems to enter rehab and stay in rehab. The new program includes women-only exercise classes and seminars on topics such as bone health, hormones, stress management and menopause. On the clinical side, we’re running research projects about women’s issues related to heart disease, such as their symptoms, the barriers women face in seeking cardiac care and the psychological burden of heart disease on women. In April, we launched a peer support pilot study, involving 10 graduates of the rehab program and 10 current patients, all women. The need for programs like ours is so great; the opportunity is so great. There are so many women affected by heart problems, and so few access cardiac rehab.
For more information about heart disease and rehabilitation, visit the Toronto Rehab Hospital’s excellent website for factsheets and tips for keeping your heart healthy.
When I was approached about doing this blog my first reaction was excitement. It was a huge compliment. I found it ironic that me, of all people, had been asked the do this. I’m not the greatest at expressing my feelings and here I was about to open myself up to the world!
Once I started to realize what I had gotten myself into I began getting cold feet. I felt like I was in over my head but, because I had made a commitment, I knew I had a responsibility to follow through. I was very nervous when I submitted the first blog. I didn’t know what to expect, what type of reception I would receive, or what I could “give” to the readers. I’ll never forget receiving that first comment. I read a little, cried a little, read a little, cried a little! It was then that I realized this was going to be a great experience.
The feedback I’ve received has been incredible; the phone calls, e-mails and comments on the blog itself. Many have conveyed to me that they didn’t understand the extent of my illness, while some weren’t even aware there was anything wrong. There have been others that I’ve never met – don’t even know their names – and they’ve passed on kind words of encouragement and understanding through friends and family. What’s even more incredible is being told by many strangers that I have touched them. I never thought that by telling my story, others would feel better about their own.
I’ve learned this past month that there are so many of us out there, especially younger women, who are fighting Heart Disease. While I once felt very alone with my struggles, I now feel renewed hope – hope for myself and others like me. Two women almost lost their lives to heart disease and here they are, 12 and 13 years later, able to share their stories on this blog. July 21st will be my five year “Anniversary” – and what a celebration it will be!
If nothing else, I am confident that this blog has given a positive light on an often dark situation. This can be a very frightening rollercoaster ride – so many ups and downs, but with great doctors, technology and faith, many good things can happen. I’m living proof!
I have to admit, once it registered that my heart was back to normal, I believed that would mean “normal” – prior to developing Heart Disease. Once again, I was very wrong.
I continue to live with restrictions and limitations. I can’t use simple things like ibuprofen, cough and cold products and many herbal remedies. I still take blood pressure pills and a beta blocker as a preventative measure. The beta blocker was recently reduced. I did well with the first reduction; however, once I reduced the medication a second time I started experiencing “symptoms”. I was nervous but thought I’d give my body a little time to adjust. After five weeks, and no change, the dosage had to be increased once again. I knew I was a “lifer” with these pills but hoped I could reduce the dosage a little more. Not so lucky, I guess…but it’s a small price to pay.
Even when you are back to normal Heart Disease has a way of holding you hostage. You become very aware of how your body functions. When anything seems out of the ordinary, panicking seems to be the first option!! For the most part though, I try to just “live life” and put to the back of my mind where I was five years ago. No matter how much Dr. Jeejeebhoy and Dr. Graham reassure me, deep down, I’ll always live with fear – fear of re-developing Cardiomyopathy or Congestive Heart Failure. My heart has been weak once…I’m afraid it won’t take much to get there again.
In the past two months I’ve been experiencing rising blood pressure, increased heart rate, swelling, shortness of breath and fatigue. I saw Dr. Jeejeebhoy this week, apprising her of this development. I’ll have some routine tests in the coming weeks to confirm what she already believes – everything is okay. My body might still be equalizing from the medication changes or it may be something as simple as my 10 pound weight gain in the last five months…as my body is considered “unstable”.
Regardless of the outcome, one thing is for certain; I must become more diligent. I’ve spent weeks writing about all the right things I did to get better but realize I have “fallen off the wagon” recently. Life has gotten so busy that I’ve forgotten to really take care of myself. That is about to change.