Lessons Learned and Recommendations to Ensure Equitable Care for Women with Cardiovascular Disease in Canada

February 13, 2024

This Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance (CWHHA) ATLAS Chapter 9 webinar will summarize future directions and the actions needed to achieve sex- and gender- equity for women’s cardiovascular health to correct the glaring “unders” of cardiovascular disease for women in Canada: under-awareness, under-diagnosis, under-treatment, under-researched, and under-supported.

The CWHHA ATLAS is a collection of chapters published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology Open, accompanied by detailed infographics, that report on the current state of cardiovascular disease in women. The goal of the ATLAS is to help clinicians recognize the unique aspects of women’s heart health care and provide policy-makers with the information they need to ensure equitable care for women with cardiovascular disease.

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 #HerHeartMatters: The Assessment of Women Presenting to the Emergency Department with Chest Pain

February 13, 2024

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death in women in Canada.

The diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in women presenting to the emergency department can be complex and challenging. Through the perspective of a person with lived experience with cardiovascular disease and a case study, this webinar will review the management, knowledge and treatment gaps, symptoms, unique risk factors and pathophysiology of women who present to the emergency department with chest discomfort. 


Lisa Comber, KTPC, BA
Manager, Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance
Canadian Women's Heart Health Centre
Ottawa, ON | @comberlisa

Nicole Nickerson
Person with Lived Experience
Patient Advocate Co-Chair, Advocacy
Middle Lehave, NS | @NicoleNickers11

Shahin Jaffer, MD, MHSc, FRCPC
Clinical Professor of Medicine
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
Division of Community General Internal Medicine
Internal Medicine Consultant
Surrey, BC

Varinder Randhawa, MD, PhD
Clinical & Research Fellow, Critical Care & Heart Failure Transplant Cardiology
University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto, ON

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#HerHeartMatters: A Multi-disciplinary Approach to Women’s Cardiovascular Health
October 26, 2023
2023 CCC graphic
Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain female and gender-specific emerging risks for cardiovascular disease across the lifespan;
  2. Describe a multi-disciplinary and intersectional approach to the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women; 
  3. Discuss the current science and knowledge related to the different types of heart disease in women;
  4. Describe the emerging  multi-disciplinary initiatives that Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance (CWHHA) members are involved in to educate and increase awareness of women’s heart health in Canada; and 
  5. Identify one actionable takeaway for your multi-disciplinary healthcare team.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) can affect women differently than men and the impact on women has traditionally been underappreciated. Healthcare teams can do more together to improve a woman's heart health journey. The leading cause of preventable death in women in Canada is heart disease. Novel and multi-disciplinary approaches to increase awareness about the unique and emerging risk factors, signs and symptoms, and the types of heart disease in women are urgently needed. 

In this workshop, members of the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance (CWHHA) (a national alliance of providers, researchers, and women with lived experience whose aim is to enhance knowledge translation, education and awareness of critical issues in women’s cardiovascular health) will address the risk factors of CVD throughout a woman’s lifespan, the signs and symptoms most often presented by women, and the types of heart disease women are more likely to have compared to men.

The workshop will also highlight important initiatives being implemented across Canada to increase awareness and knowledge among healthcare teams, with actionable items participants can use in their day-to-day practice. A multi-disciplinary and intersectional lens will be used to present this emerging evidence grounded in science,  with ample opportunity for participant engagement and interactivity. Participants working with women across the lifespan will benefit from the information gained in this workshop. 

The workshop will be presented as outlined below: 
  • Women with lived experiences from across Canada will provide valuable patient perspectives in their ‘Heart Stories’ through a pre-recorded video.
  • Nicole Tegg will give an overview of unique and emerging risk factors across a woman’s lifespan, including menarche,  pregnancy, perimenopausal and menopausal risk factors, cancer diagnosis and treatment, polycystic ovary syndrome, and rheumatic autoimmune diseases.
  • Dr. Monica Parry will highlight recent guidelines and suggest a multi-disciplinary and intersectional approach to the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women.
  • Dr. Sharon Mulvagh will describe the types of heart disease women are more likely to have compared to men.
  • Nazli Parast and Patrice Lindsay will provide insight into important Canadian initiatives and projects targeting women’s heart health.
  • Finally, Laura Avelar and Jennifer Harris will highlight new developments in the management of women’s heart health and actionable items for healthcare teams working in both acute care and rehabilitation. 
  • Mulvagh SL, Mullen KA, Nerenberg KA, et al., The Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance Atlas on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women - Chapter 4: Sex- and Gender-Unique Disparities: CVD Across the Lifespan of a Woman. CJC Open. 2021 Sep 25;4(2):115-132.
  • Gulati M, et al. 2021 AHA/ACC/ASE/CHEST/SAEM/SCCT/SCMR Guideline for the Evaluation and Diagnosis of Chest Pain: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Joint Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines. JACC. 2021 Nov;78(22):e187-e285.
  • King-Shier K, et al. Acute coronary syndromes presentations and care outcomes in white, South Asian and Chinese patients: a cohort study. BMJ Open. 2019;9:e022479.
  • Bauer, G. Meet the Methods series: Quantitative intersectional study design and primary data collection. CIHR. 2021 Feb;3(1).
  • Norris CM, et al. State of the Science in Women's Cardiovascular Disease: A Canadian Perspective on the Influence of Sex and Gender. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Feb 17;9(4):e015634.
  • Tamis-Holland et al., Contemporary Diagnosis and Management of Patients With Myocardial Infarction in the Absence of Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease. A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019 April 30;139(18):e891-e908.
  • Pacheco C, et al. The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance Atlas on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women — Chapter 5: Sex- and Gender-Unique Manifestations of Cardiovascular Disease. CJC Open. 2021 Nov 23;4(3):243-262.
  • Ghisi, G.LM., et al. Women-Focused Cardiovascular Rehabilitation: An International Council of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Clinical Practice Guideline∗. Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 2022;38(12):1786-1798.
  • Mamataz T, Grace S, et al., Nature, availability, and utilization of women-focused cardiac rehabilitation: a systematic review. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 2021 Sept 23;21:459.

Ask the Experts! Together, Overcoming Barriers in Women’s Heart Health

February 13, 2023

What barriers exist in women’s cardiovascular health and how can we overcome them? Our expert panel of patients and healthcare providers will discuss some of the barriers, enablers and solutions around access, diagnosis, treatment and care for women’s cardiovascular health in Canada. 


  • Dr. Judy Luu, Women’s Heart Health Cardiologist (moderator)
  • Dr. Alexandra Bastiany, Interventional Cardiologist, Thunder Bay Regional Health Centre
  • Taira Birne, Lead Case Manager, SCAD Rehab, Leslie Diamond Women’s Heart Health Clinic,  Vancouver General Hospital Centre for Cardiovascular Health
  • Bobbi Jo Green, Woman with Lived Experience
  • Moira Teed, Social Worker, Senior Advisor, Public and Patient Engagement, Canadian Medical Association

View the Recorded Session Here

List of Resources

#HerHeartMatters: Let’s Start the Conversation about Women’s Heart Health

#HerHeartMatters: Let’s Start the Conversation about Women’s Heart Health

February 13, 2023

At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to describe what heart disease is and how heart disease is different in women, including signs and symptoms, list the risks for heart disease in women, provide examples of how you can take heart health action as well as describe tips for talking with your health care provider about your heart health. 


  • Marion Martell, Women@Heart Program Ambassador, Peer Leader, Canadian Women's Heart Health Centre
  • Nadine Elias, Women@Heart Program Manager, Canadian Women's Heart Health Centre

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Women's Heart and Brain Health: Ask the Experts

February 13, 2023

Learn more about women’s heart health! This was a live-streamed Q&A event to enable a conversation with experts in women’s heart & brain health. Held online and in person in Vancouver, British Columbia.


  • Dr. Lily Zhou, stroke neurologist
  • Dr. Tara Sedlak, cardiologist
  • Mahraz Parvand, women's heart health researcher and medical student
  • Aviva F., Patient Partner with Lived Experience, Young-onset Stroke
  • Kelly O., Patient Partner with Lived Experience, Young-onset Heart Disease
  • Host: Amber Belzer 

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Inspiring Others

 ► Dreaming Big
Madison Mailey, Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist, Women's 8 | Vancouver, BC

► My Heart Story and How Youth Can Take Part
Kiara Herrera, Youth Advocate | Port Coquitlam, BC

► Gymnastics and Women’s Heart Health: Making Exercise Fun at an Early Age
Balance Competitive Gymnastics Team | West Vancouver, BC

 ► Red Rhino, a Dance Space for Everyone 
Eogan Dillon, Dancer and Founder, Red Rhino

► Interview with Elite Runner, Erin Poirier
Erin Poirier | Halifax, NS and Amy Johnston | Ottawa, ON

► Adaptive Sports: The Importance of Moving
André-anne Sabourin, Adaptive Sit Skier and Amy Johnston | Ottawa, ON

 Communicating with your Healthcare Provider

 Tips When Speaking with a Healthcare Provider
Denise Johnston, Patient Advocate | Vancouver, BC

 ► Tips to Finding a Primary Care Provider
Dr. Najah Adreak, UBC | Vancouver, BC

Mental Health

► Self-Compassion in our Women participants at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
Dr. Shaelyn Strachan and Brittany Semenchuck, University of Manitoba | Winnipeg, MB

Physicial Activity

► Yoga Demo: Mindfulness with Melanie and how to Maintain New Healthy Habits to Fit Within Your Already Busy Day
Yoga Within | Edmonton, AB

► Primary Prevention: Benefits and Recommendations of Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Health and Tips to Increase Motivation 
Malaïka Saint-Victor and Nour Saadawi, Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative | Montreal, QC.

► Secondary Prevention and Physical Activity: The Benefits of Exercise Following a Heart Attack (French spoken, English subtitles)
Dr. Christine Pacheco, Hôpital Pierre-Boucher and University of Montreal Health Centre, Dr. Vee-Van Le and Amélie Bréard, University of Montreal Health Centre | Montreal, QC

► Sit and Stand Exercise Demo
Robin Pohl, Halton Healthcare - Milton District Hospital | Burlington, ON

 Healthy Eating

► Grocery Store Tour - Shopping for Heart Healthy Food Options
Angela Dufour, Olympic Performance Dietician | Halifax, NS

► Chop and Chat with Chef Andy 
Chef Andy Haye, East Coast Kitchen | Halifax, NS