A heart attack comes with no warning as Renee Demers found out.
One day last year Demers experienced discomfort in the upper part of her chest. The next day the pain got worse. She started to sweat and felt faint before having her husband call an ambulance.
“Very scary and I was not attributing that to a heart attack,” she explained.
The 59-year old survived and graduated from the Cardiac Wellness Centre Wednesday morning.
“I think I missed one day in six months so I’m just pushing myself. I was never an exerciser but it’s important to continue it outside of here,” she said.
Referrals to the Cardiac Wellness Centre program are a 50-50 split between man and women, but men make up 70 per cent of the program attendees.
A new report may shed light on why the disparity.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada is highlighting significant inequities in women’s heart and brain health care that is affecting racialized and Indigenous women, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community and those living with low socioeconomic status.
In 2019, 20 per cent more women than men died of heart failure and 32 per cent more women died of stroke than men according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
This is why local health experts says it’s important to pay attention to your heart health.
“Angina is not pain,” said Dr. Robert Wilson who helped launch the Wellness Centre more than 20 years ago. “It’s tightness. It’s pressure or ‘I just feel weak.’ Those are things your doctor should know about.”
Carly Bell, operations manager, encourages people to engage in some type of activity every day.
“If you’re sitting there watching your favourite show, you’re sitting on the couch, every commercial pick up some hand weights or start moving your feet and arms. Get that blood pumping,” she said.
Bell says many factors bring a person through their doors but adds, there are many things a person can do to avoid visiting the Wellness Centre.
“Staying active. Keeping a healthy diet. Quitting or reducing smoking,” she said. “Just being in those yearly checkups with your doctor.”
There lots of local initiatives to help this heart month.
Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare has the Follow Your Heart to the Ciociaro Club fundraiser. Buy a meal any day this month and proceeds will help benefit the Cardiac Wellness Centre.
Antonino’s Pizza is once again slinging their heart shaped pizza’s leading up to Valentine’s Day to support heart care in the region.
“With some of the funds that we’ve raised has gone toward getting I believe another catheterization machine and so we see the money actually helping in the community,” owner Joe Ciaravino said.
The United Way is hosting their IMove event encouraging everyone to engage in 200 minutes of activity between February 20th and March 5th.
“We have some grey days. We have some cold days,” said Andy Bothamley, vice president of finance and operations. “It’s hard to want to get outside and do some exercise but it’s much for our health when we do that.”