Natalie Szakun and Lyndon Rebello are research assistants at Trinity Western University’s Integrative Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Natalie Szakun and Lyndon Rebello are research assistants at Trinity Western University’s Integrative Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley university joins a national campaign to raise awareness about heart health in women

Research assistants initiates series of events in the campus

Langley’s Trinity Western University is engaging students in a creative campaign to talk about cardiovascular health issues in women.

The university planned a wide range of accessible and engaging activities, including crossword puzzles with answers revealing heart health facts, a take-home cookie decorating kit that included a QR code linking to heart health information, and an outdoor walking lecture on the university’s heart research.

As per a report by Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, heart disease is on the rise and is the leading cause of death for women worldwide. Though the event, the university has joined a national campaign, ‘Wear Red Canada’, which aims to talk about the issue and share the good news that “heart disease is largely preventable.”

At the local university, human kinetics research assistant Natalie Szakun and her colleagues are working within the integrative cardiovascular physiology laboratory to uncover the gender-specific risk factors of cardiovascular disease while highlighting the mediating effect of physical activity.

“Everyone in the lab is working towards the same goal: understanding heart health for all; however, this month [February], we wanted to shine a light on women’s cardiovascular health,” said Szakun.

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Her team connected with community members in the area during the campus event.

In one of the activities, participants were asked to write the name of someone – a woman in their life – whom they intend to speak with about heart health.

“We hope to reinforce the notion that taking care of oneself is not selfish or a waste of time, rather an act of selflessness,” Szakun expressed. “These events should serve as a reminder to everyone that we must support the women in our lives to take care of themselves first, so that they can take care of others.”

Lyndon Rebello, fellow research assistant and human kinetics graduate, said, “I hope that the members of our TWU community, both staff and students, have gained awareness of women’s heart health, as this is a topic that possesses much gravity but is sadly underestimated.”

He added that he wants people to have these “crucial conversations” with their mothers, sisters, or friends to ensure that a women’s heart health is always a priority.

More than a hundred students attended various activities hosted during February, and all participants received information and helpful resources relating to heart health.

“Hopefully, the benefits would be a more knowledgeable, passionate, confident, and caring community – a community that acknowledges and validates the unequal burden of women’s cardiovascular health and strives to lessen the hold of cardiovascular disease in women,” commented Szakun.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Trinity Western’s Christian Rossi drafted by York FC of Canadian Premiere League

The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre reported that heart attack symptoms are not recognized in more than 50 per cent of women. The report also said that female heart attack patients 55 and younger were seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and sent home.

Dr. Anita Cote heads the university’s integrative cardiovascular physiology laboratory team. She recently collaborated with Dr. Sarah Liva, Dr. Angela Wolff, and Dr. Mi Yeon Kim from the school of nursing to understand how women perceive their risks before the cardiovascular disease is present and find more ways to support health-promoting behaviours such as physical activity among women.

For more information, people can visit university’s website.

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Have a story tip? Email: tanmay.ahluwalia@langleyadvancetimes.com

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