Heart Month 2015, Spread the Word!

Heart Month 2015It is a little known fact that heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and, astonishingly, 90 percent of Canadians have at least one risk factor.

With obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes on the rise, it is expected that the incidence of heart disease and stroke will swell in upcoming generations. Lifestyle changes have led to sedentary work environments, poor diets, high sodium intake and increased stress which all contribute to heart disease. We are facing what the Heart and Stroke Foundation calls the “perfect storm.”

Heart Disease Facts 

  • Everyday, heart disease and stroke lead to nearly 1,000 hospital visits.
  • Heart disease and stroke rob Canadians of nearly 250,000 potential years of life
  • Heart disease and stroke kills more women than men, a fact that many women may not realize.
  • Today, less than 10% of children meet recommended physical activity guidelines and less than half eat the recommended fruit and vegetables for optimum health.

Heart Month 2015

Today, you can make a difference by celebrating Heart Month 2015 and eliminate preventable heart disease. For over 60 years, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has organized Heart Month, one of the largest fundraising campaigns in Canada in the battle against these two killers.

Heart Month brings together tens of thousands of Canadians who volunteer and donate to raise funds for this worthy cause – funds which will help support life-saving research and the raising of awareness of heart disease and stroke within the community. Learn how you can participate and join the Heart Month Community.

As heart disease is an issue that is very personal to us, Iridia will donate a portion of the proceeds from your purchase of AED’s, AED accessories or workshops to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We value and appreciate the hard work the Heart and Stroke Foundation is doing and we are thankful to have them as a partner against heart disease.

Additionally, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be teaming up with London Drugs this Heart Month to deliver a series of in-store CPR/AED awareness events. More news to follow, but you can expect to see the Iridia team at your local London Drugs store in the coming weeks. Learn more about London Drugs and their commitment to public health and safety here.

In recognition of Heart Month 2015, Iridia is offering 10% off all AEDs in February. For more information, please contact AED Sales at 1-888-404-6444.

Heart Month 2015

It is an uphill battle against heart disease and stroke, but it’s a battle we can win – help us and spread the word!


Do You Know Your Heart Disease Risk?

heart disease risk

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart. Diseases that fall under the definition of heart disease include coronary artery disease; cardiac arrest, heart infections and heart defects you’re born with.

What’s Your Heart Disease Risk?

Unfortunately there’s no definitive measurement to gauge the likelihood of suffering a cardiac emergency – reducing your heart disease risk is your best strategy. Steps to take include regular checkups, screening for heart disease, and living a heart-healthy lifestyle.

It is a little known fact that heart disease accounts for 20 percent of all Canadian deaths and 90 percent of Canadians have at least one of the following risk factors:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Stress 

For more information on risk factors, we recommend you assess yourself with the H&S Risk Calculator – a personalized tool to help you find out what’s putting you at risk.


Heart Disease Outlook

With obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes on the rise, it is expected that the incidence of heart disease and stroke will swell in upcoming generations. Lifestyle changes have led to sedentary work environments, poor diets, high sodium intake and increased stress which all contribute to heart disease.

Heart Disease Facts

  • Every day, heart disease and stroke lead to nearly 1,000 hospital visits
  • Heart disease and stroke rob Canadians of nearly 250,000 potential years of life
  • Heart disease and stroke kills more women than men, a fact that many women may not realize
  • Today, less than 10% of children meet recommended physical activity guidelines and less than half eat the recommended fruit and vegetables for optimum health

The most important line of defense is to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle that can guard against heart disease before it strikes.



Cardiac Arrest and Marathons – Don’t Take Off Your Running Shoes Just Yet

Marathon runners have been making headlines more and more in recent years. Not because of the times they put up, but rather the dramatic images of runners collapsing and in some cases, dying during or right after an event.

Should you stay out of the race? Not so fast. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that if you want to go the distance, go ahead – as long as you don’t have a pre-existing condition.

The study looked at nearly 11 million runners who took part in marathons between 2000 and 2010.

By scouring media reports and checking with medical staff of races, the researchers discovered 59 cases of cardiac arrest, where a runner became unconscious with no pulse during the race or within an hour of finishing. Unfortunately forty-two of these runners died, and 51 of the 59 cases happened in men.

The overall figures translate to 1 cardiac arrest per 184,000 participants and 1 death per 259,000 participants, the researchers said. Those numbers are low compared to other athletic activities, as shown by prior studies of deaths in college athletes, triathlon participants and previously healthy middle-aged joggers, researchers said.

“You hear about this more and more,” said Dr. Aaron Baggish, senior author of the study.

Cardiac Arrest and Marathons

One of the reasons we have seen an increase in the number of collapses is due to an increase, overall, of runners who are trying to push themselves to stay fit, giving the illusion that cardiac arrest is on the rise amongst runners.

“More cases showed up during 2005-2010 than in the preceding five-year span, but that’s just because more people are participating in the races,” Baggish said. More worrisome was the finding that among male marathoners, the rate of cardiac arrest per 100,000 runners was higher during the latter half of the decade than in the first half.

Baggish thinks that’s because of a shift in attitudes about who can run long distances. Even a decade ago, 26.2 mile marathons were considered appropriate only for very athletic people, he said. But more recently people have come to think of it as “something anyone can do,” and even as a healthy activity for lowering the risk of heart disease, he said. So it has attracted people with a family history of early heart disease or early deaths. “These are just the people who are likely to get into trouble,” says Baggish

In the 31 cardiac arrests for which researchers could find a cause, most were due to clogged hardened arteries or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a sometimes inherited condition in which an unusually thick heart muscle can interfere with the pumping rhythm.

According to Baggish, most of the victims were unaware of their pre-existing conditions, so he would encourage aspiring and experienced runners to talk to their doctors about heart risks associated with distance running.

American Heart Association Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, president of the , called the study “reassuring” for finding so few cardiac arrests. “For most people, running a marathon, if you are so inclined, is a reasonably safe proposition,” he said.

Tomaselli, a heart specialist at Johns Hopkins University, also said runners should pay attention if they feel chest pain, dizziness, light-headedness or unusually short breath or rapid heartbeat while running. “You should listen to your body,” he said.

“We don’t want to alarm people about marathon running. The benefits of exercise are well established” said one of that report’s authors, Dr. Navin Kapur of Tufts Medical Center in Boston. The report shows even seasoned marathon runners can have heart disease, something paramedics should keep in mind if a runner shows suggestive signs, said Kapur.

Study Looks to Predict Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk

A promising new way to predict sudden cardiac arrest risk has been identified by medical researchers at the University of Buffalo.

For patients who are at the highest risk of sudden cardiac arrest, this is exciting news, as this research may give cardiologists an advanced screening tool to help those in the high-risk category and those most likely to benefit from receiving an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD).

ICDs are mainly used to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in patients with advanced heart disease, but many patients’ devices are never triggered.

New research suggests that imaging the degradation of nerve function in the heart may identify those patients at greatest risk of developing a life-threatening heart rhythm.

Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), in the largest PET imaging study ever done on sudden cardiac arrest, researchers were able to measure the amount of nerve damage within the muscular tissue of the heart.

PET imaging is also able to show where nerves have died or become damaged due to inadequate blood flow.

Sudden cardiac arrest

“The principal question we posed with this study was whether the amount of nerve damage in the heart could predict sudden cardiac arrest,” says James A. Fallavollita, author on the study. “We found that when at least 38 percent of the heart was showed signs of nerve damage, there was a significant increase in the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.”

At this time, to determine whether an ICD is needed, doctors take a measurement of heart function called the ejection fraction; the percentage of blood pumped by the heart with each beat. An ejection fraction of 35 percent or less is a strong indicator of sudden cardiac arrest risk; these patients usually require an ICD.

This research is a prime example of translational medicine (the emerging field which focuses on using what is learned in pre-clinical studies to do smarter things in the clinic). In this case, the pre-clinical studies demonstrated that the risk of developing ventricular fibrillation (a deadly heart rhythm) was related to regional nerve damage.

“Ultimately, we wanted to develop an approach that could tackle the problem of identifying a larger portion of the patients with coronary artery disease who are at risk of developing sudden cardiac arrest,” explains John M. Canty, a principal investigator of the research. “Since many patients who suffer a cardiac arrest do not have severely depressed heart function, PET imaging may be able to identify high risk individuals who, in the future, could be considered candidates for an ICD.”

Cardiac Re-synchronization Therapy

As part of our mission here at Iridia to promote heart disease, we are constantly drawing awareness to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and their importance in fighting Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). One area we haven’t talked is  the “what comes next area.” What happens when you survive a SCA or are diagnosed with heart disease? There are treatment options available and Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) is one of them.

Cardiac Re-synchronization Therapy

CRT is used to treat the delay in heart ventricle contractions that occur in some people with advanced heart failure.

In other words, CRT is a therapy to provide a weakened heart with the ability to be re-synced and restore proper pumping functions.

Currently, CRT is one of the most advanced cardiac treatment options available for heart disease sufferers.

In order to re-sync the heart, a CRT pacing device (also called a biventricular pacemaker) is surgically implanted under the skin. This specially designed pacemaker stimulates the lower chambers of the heart to contract at the same time, making the heart more effective and efficient.

How does a Biventricular Pacemaker work? When a heart rate drops below a set rate (programmed by a doctor), the pacing device generates small electrical impulses that pass through the leads to the heart muscle. Theseimpulses make the lower chambers of the heart muscle contract, causing the right and left ventricles to pump together. In many cases, the end result is improved cardiac function.

Cardiac Re-synchronization Therapy

Studies have shown CRT improves symptoms of heart failure in about 50% of patients. Many of these patients had previously been treated with medications but still suffered severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms.

CRT not only improves survival, but also quality of life, heart function, ability to exercise, and helps decrease hospitalizations in many patients with severe heart disease.

The procedure itself is generally very safe. Given the success of CRT, if an individual is a good candidate for the procedure, CRT will give them an increased chance at a normal life.

Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical research centre, has shown that on average, CRT improves the amount of blood pumped out with each heart beat by 5% to 10%. In some cases, patients with a CRT device can even develop normal ventricular function. It is not rare for a patient to see an increase of blood pumped out by each beat by up to 40%.

Given the health benefits, it is unfortunate that CRT is not available to all heart disease sufferers. CRT is only appropriate for people who:

  • have severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms
  • are taking medications to treat heart failure
  • have delayed electrical activation of the heart 
  • have a history of cardiac arrest or are at risk for cardiac arrest

What does the future hold for CRT? According to recent studies, allowing implantation of CRT devices in patients with moderate heart failure could help stem progression of heart failure.

A Diet Pop a Day = A Hospital Stay

Many people turn to diet soft drinks in an effort to cut their calorie intake and prevent weight gain or other illnesses such as diabetes, which is a risk indicator for heart disease. 

Diet Pop

A study from the American Stroke Association claims to have found a link between diet pop and cardiovascular disease. The same link was not seen in those who consumed regular soda.

The findings are based on 2564 adult volunteers who were asked to complete a questionnaire about their eating habits, including their pop consumption.  The researchers then monitored the health of the participants for about nine years.

The results revealed that people who drank at least one diet pop a day had a 48% higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who reported no soda consumption. Those who drank regular soda in similar quantities faced no greater or lesser risk than those who avoided all pop.

Diet Pop

This isn’t the first study to raise questions about diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners have a long history of receiving the hairy eyeball from food safety advocates. Some studies have indicated sugar substitutes may disrupt the normal digestive process causing the body to retrieve and absorb more sugars from the gut.

Other research has suggested that diet-soda drinkers faced an elevated risk of metabolic syndrome, a collection of disorders that places suffers at increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers allow that the study has a few weaknesses that make if far from definite: it lacks information on the specific drinks other than pop that people consumed and it didn’t look in any great detail at the other factors in their volunteers’ lives (e.g. genetics and exercise habits).

It’s possible that people who gravitate to diet soda share other lifestyle quirks that put them at risk of heart troubles.

“If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages,” said the lead author of the study Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

When asked why she thinks the findings came out the way they did, Dr. Gardener shied away from questions of biology and stuck to the numbers. “As far as I know, we don’t have any clear evidence for a mechanism. To say anything at this point would be speculation.”

Until more research is done, Dr. Gardener said, it’s too early to urge people off of diet drinks. But “if consumers want to be conservative, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no nutritional value in diet or regular sodas. And certainly the health consequences of regular soda – sugar-sweetened beverages – have been well documented. So cutting either out of your diet is not going to leave you with nutritional or vitamin holes.

If you really want to delve deeper into diet drink debate. Watch this YouTube clip about diet soda and weight gain:


Remember there’s always fruit juice. Or water.

January Innovation – The ECG of the Future

What is Electrocardiography (ECG), and why is it useful? ECG is the interpretation of the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. It is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart.

It sounds like having an ECG could be quite handy, right? Well yes, it would be, but who would want to spend thousands and have a large brick of a device lying around? Look at the size of that thing below, not me!

How about something you can trust to deliver accurate results and slip into your shirt pocket? Now we are talking.

ECG of the future

CardioComm’s new handheld HeartChecktm Pen does just that, it puts the benefits of an ECG in the palm of your hand. You may see hypochondriacs lining up for this device, but its use goes well beyond those who have health obsession on the mind.

The HeartCheck Pen would benefit any person interested in monitoring their health due to heart disease.  It could also be used to determine potential heart disease by assessing abnormal heart rhythms and muscle defects. From athletes to seniors, a wide range of consumers could benefit from this device.

“We feel the HeartCheck Pen is a true remote monitoring device because it is compact, easy to use, and takes accurate heart readings in only 30 seconds. The Pen may be used from anywhere, including at home, the office, the gym or in remote areas which are often inaccessible to common ECG machines,” said Etienne Grima, CardioComm Solutions’ CEO.

The device makes sending and storing ECGs easy. Up to 20 ECGs can be stored on the device, and once you hit that mark you can download the ECGs to your computer and print them off, or save some trees and send them electronically to your doc or clinic. The data can also be downloaded to GEMS™ Home, where repeated recordings can be managed in a personal health data record.

“What makes this product unique,” explained Grima, “is that after a consumer sends a selected heart rate recording to the C4 medical call-center over the internet using GEMS™ Home, the actual ECG recording will be reviewed and interpreted by an attending C4 physician. The ECG report will then be made available to the customer, again through GEM Home, where they may retrieve the ECG interpretation and use it in communicating with their own health care providers.”

The HeartCheck Pen definitely has some interesting advantages over its big brother, but is it something you would use? Take our poll below and tell us your thoughts.

[polldaddy poll=5893102]

For more information on this device, please visit CardioComm

Understanding the Risks of Heart Disease and Stroke

If you would like to understand your risk of heart disease and stroke, then try this quiz out. It only takes a few minutes and gives a lot of great feedback w/ personalized summary.

Risks of Heart Disease and Stroke

The quiz is part of the Heart and Stroke Foundations new campaign to “make death wait.”

Their goals are to reduce deaths due to heart disease and stroke by 25% by 2020. That’s 25,000 lives – the size of a typical town – that could be saved every year.

Follow this link to try out the quiz:

As a health care consulting and cardiac care training firm, one of Global Medical Services’ goals is to bring exceptional health care and training to everyone. Part of the way we do this is by generating awareness for terrible health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or find out more information about the “Make Death Wait” campaign, please follow this link: