McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Seniors learn about their risk for heart attack and stroke

Published: November 14 , 2006
McMaster's Dr. Janusz Kaczorowski (right) talks with Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson and Sharon Hunt, local co-ordinator for C-CHAP in Cornwall.

By Tina Karwalajtys

A new cardiovascular health promotion program for seniors is wrapping up this week in communities across Ontario. More than13,500 seniors have visited a pharmacy session over the last few weeks to have their blood pressure measured and complete a cardiovascular risk profile.

The Community Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (C-CHAP) is designed to support the prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke by providing free, accessible risk assessment sessions, including blood pressure measurement, to residents 65 years and older. The program is a collaboration between the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University and the Élisabeth Bruyère Research Institute in Ottawa.

The assessment results are given to participants and sent to their family doctor and regular pharmacist to assist in diagnosing and managing hypertension and increasing awareness of cardiovascular and stroke risk.

"The CHAP program is an unprecedented success in terms of mobilizing the community and building partnerships," says Janusz Kaczorowski, associate professor, Family Medicine at McMaster University. "The participation of local partners and attendance at the sessions has surpassed our expectations and is likely to attain 20,000 by the end of the program. This will represent almost a third of the total population 65 years of age and older in these communities."

The program involves more than 200 family physicians, 130 pharmacies, 550 volunteers, 20 community organizations and senior residents in 20 medium-sized Ontario communities with populations of 10,000 to 60,000. Partner organizations in each of the program communities have helped to promote and deliver the program locally.

The sessions are delivered by ‘peer health educator’ volunteers, older adults trained by a community health nurse to measure blood pressure using an automated device, record cardiovascular risk factor information, and provide participants with resources on modifiable risk factors such as smoking cessation, healthy eating and physical activity. Nearly 600 senior volunteers have been involved across Ontario.

A team of researchers based at McMaster and the Élisabeth Bruyère Research Institute will evaluate the effectiveness of the program in reducing cardiovascular disease and stroke at the community level, using randomized controlled trial methods and data held at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Statistics Canada.

The researchers are also working with the community partners to plan a longer term, scaled-down program. The program was recently awarded a Certificate of Excellence for 2006 from Blood Pressure Canada, recognizing outstanding contributions in the community for prevention and control of hypertension in Canada.

Funding of $500,000 to support the community-based activities was recently awarded from the Ministry of Health Promotion, as part of the Ontario Stroke Strategy initiative. C-CHAP is also funded in part by the Canadian Stroke Network.

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