Improving Your Chances — Recovering from Heart Disease

Improving Your Chances —
Recovering from Heart Disease


Data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Information point to the Miramichi as a leader in heart disease. Data indicates Miramichiers have higher than the provincial average in the majority of risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity. “The area serviced by the Miramichi Regional Health Authority has the eighth highest hospitalization rate in the country for heart attacks making the Miramichi a leader in heart disease.To address the large number of people in the region who have been diagnosed and treated with heart disease, the Cardiac Wellness Program was developed at the Miramichi Regional Hospital. The program consists of education sessions dealing with heart disease, risk factors, lifestyle changes, developing healthy habits, stress management, and medication use. It also includes exercise sessions under the supervision of a cardiac rehabilitation nurse and a physiotherapist. The nutrition sessions are provided by the cardiac clinical dietician.

“The program is of great benefit for anyone with a history of a heart attack or heart disease, angina, heart surgery, angioplasty or at high risk for coronary artery disease,” says Jacqueline Savoie, RN and Coordinator of the Cardiac Wellness Program. “The program is two days a week for 10 weeks,” says Savoie.  She says that each session can accommodate up to eight individuals. Staffing of the program includes Savoie who is a registered nurse and program coordinator, a physiotherapist, a medical advisor, clinical dietician, pharmacist and psychologist.

She says there are many benefits of the program that include improvements in cardiovascular fitness, angina and shortness of breath, hospital readmissions, blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels, blood glucose control, weight loss, anxiety, depression and self confidence as well as quality of life.

Pat Clancy of Chatham can attest to the program’s benefits. “Last January, I developed pains in my chest,” says Clancy. He said he was sent to the NB Heart Centre in Saint John where he had two major blockages of the heart. He underwent angioplasty and had two stents placed in his heart. “When I returned home to the Miramichi, my family doctor recommended I participate in the Cardiac Wellness Program.” He participated in the program’s first class in April 2005.

“I am a very strong supporter of the program,” says Clancy. He says he always thought he knew a lot about heart disease but the program helped him understand the information. “I had never looked at myself as someone who had a lot of risk factors until I understood the information.” He said most importantly the program gave him the confidence to make lifestyle changes that have improved his health and quality of life. “After my surgery, I had a fear about attempting any activity.” He says the staff supported him through the exercise portion of the program and calmed his fear and anxiety. “I was given my confidence back.”

Clancy says he has now reduced his weight by 80 pounds, exercises regularly and eats a healthy diet. “I am now coping with stress much better and am more relaxed at work and at home.” He says he is grateful he had the opportunity to participate in the program and credits it to his success in improving and maintaining his health.A doctor’s referral is required to participate in the program. “Once we receive the referral, we contact the individual to make an appointment,” says Savoie. She says each participant must have completed a stress test prior to starting the program. She says there is currently a waiting list for this service and the more at risk patients are seen first.

If you believe you are a candidate for this service, please contact your family doctor for a referral to the program. Further information about the program can be obtained by calling the Cardiac Wellness Program at (506)623-6166.


Heart Disease Facts from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Heart Attack Warning Signs-

  • Pain
  • Sudden discomfort or pain that does not go away with rest
  • Pain that may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back
  • Pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure.

In women, pain may be vaguer-

  • Shortness of Breath – difficulty breathing
  • Nausea – indigestion or vomiting
  • Sweating – cool, clammy skin
  • Fear – anxiety or denial

Signs may be mild or severe. If you or someone you know have any of these signs, call 911. Early intervention in the case of a cardiac emergency can mean the difference between life and death.

For more information about recovering from heart disease contact:

Tell us what you think about the Improving Your Chances health column by contacting us through E-Mail, phone (506) 623-3003 or mail the Miramichi Regional Health Authority, 500 Water St., Miramichi, NB, E1V 3G5.