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Heart to heart: Manitoba spending $650K on women’s health

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The Manitoba government is launching a social impact bond that is aimed at supporting women’s heart health – Sep 8, 2021

Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon announced Wednesday that the Manitoba government is launching a social impact bond that is aimed at supporting women’s heart health.

“Women experience heart health differently from men and rates of heart disease in women come at a significant cost to society and the individuals involved,” said Gordon.

Read more: Heart disease in women is under-diagnosed, under-treated and under-researched: Heart and Stroke report

“Women may not prioritize their own health above the health of others, and signs of heart disease often go unrecognized. Our government’s fourth social impact bond offers a much-needed tailored approach that aims to reduce the risk of heart disease among women in Manitoba and support post-pandemic efforts to increase physical activity levels.”

Gordon noted circulatory diseases are the leading cause of death and a leading cause of hospitalization in Manitoba, and approximately six per cent of Manitoban women have heart disease.

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“Success metrics will focus on the number of individuals who participate in an initial assessment to determine program eligibility, the number of individuals who reduce their systolic blood pressure and the number of individuals who increase their participation in physical activity,” the release reads.

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Gordon states that the government will partner with the Reh-Fit Centre and the Victoria General Hospital Foundation (VGHF) on the bond, which will begin in January 2022.

The VGHF will invest $600,000 over the next three years, which will enable the Reh-Fit Centre to deliver virtual health behavioural mentoring sessions to approximately 400 adult women at risk of heart disease. If all outcomes are met or exceeded, the total maximum payback from the province of Manitoba to VGHF will be $648,000.

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“We are pleased to be a part of this exciting partnership to help Manitoban women have better heart health now and for years to come,” said Sue Boreskie, CEO of the Reh-Fit Centre.

“We are proud to partner with the Manitoba government and Reh-Fit Centre to support the heart health of women in our province,” said Nicole Chammartin, executive director, Victoria General Hospital Foundation.

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“Heart disease is one of the most significant health threats facing Manitoba women today and we are pleased to invest in this vital program designed to help reduce their risk and improve their health and well-being,” Chammartin added.

A 2017 study by Manitoba Health and Seniors Care found the cost of treating individuals with heart disease is six times greater than individuals with general medical needs.

Additionally, Statistics Canada recently released a report that also indicates how in general, adults have decreased their physical activity levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Preventing heart disease risk in women is incredibly important and we know that simple evidence-based interventions, such as increased physical activity and lifestyle coaching, are key to prevention,” said Boreskie.

Gordon noted that research shows about 80 per cent of heart attacks can be prevented by being physically active, eating fruits and vegetables and avoiding smoking — interventions that are evidence-based and target these key risk factors for heart disease can play a strong role in limiting the burden and cost of the disease.

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