GoodLife Fitness invests in heart health: Collaboration targets innovative approach to continuum of care

Canadians suffering from heart disease will have greater access to cardiovascular rehabilitation thanks to a $5 million donation by GoodLife Fitness to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC).The donation will fund the Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Medicine, and marks the beginning of an innovative private/public collaboration between the PMCC and GoodLife, Canada’s largest fitness company.

The new Centre of Excellence will spur advances in care and research in post-acute cardiovascular health and secondary prevention. In keeping with the overall vision of the PMCC, its goal is to be internationally recognized for excellence in heart health and exercise. Funds will also help revitalize the existing rehabilitation facilities at the Toronto Western Hospital site to better match the standard of care offered by the cardiovascular rehabilitation servicesin the PMCC and Toronto Rehab’s Rumsey Centre. In addition to growing and revitalizing the current space, GoodLife is providing state-of-the-art cardiovascular exercise and monitoring equipment.

“At GoodLife, we are excited to enter into this collaboration with UHN and the ,” said Founder & CEO, David Patchell-Evans. “As a leader in the health and fitness industry in Canada and global advocate for exercise as an important contributor to overall health, this collaboration is an excellent opportunity to venture into new areas of care. Knowing our donation will have a positive impact on patients and their families while also improving the health care system as a whole, means that we are one step closer to fulfilling our vision to give Canadians the opportunity to live fit and healthy lives. We are united with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in the belief that activity and exercise are of vital importance as a main component of any treatment plan.”

Increased access to care

The collaboration brings together two leading health and wellness organizations in Canada to develop an innovative approach to the continuum of care for patients with . For PMCC patients, this means greater access to the latest and preventative techniques and equipment; a supportive environment to strive towards their rehabilitation goals; an enhanced continuum of care extending into the community; and, as a result, overall improved health and wellness and a significantly decreased likelihood of another cardiac episode.

In addition to creating the Centre of Excellence, Goodlife’s donation will also fund the GoodLife Fitness Chair in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Prevention. This Chair will lead a comprehensive research program that will include investigations into best practices in cardiac rehabilitation along with analysis of cardiovascular databases to better understand long-term patient outcomes. In addition, PMCC cardiac rehabilitation experts along with fitness experts from GoodLife Fitness will work together to build a program to help patients transition into the community and achieve life-long success in their cardiac rehabilitation and health

“This knowledge will be translated to GoodLife Fitness Clubs as well as cardiac rehabilitation clinics from coast-to-coast,” notes Dr. Rubin, Chair and Program Medical Director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. “We envision that patients will seamlessly transition from in-patient and then out-patient cardiac rehabilitation to a sustained exercise program designed to meet each individual’s needs.”

“The GoodLife Fitness Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Medicine will foster knowledge and innovation in cardiac health, reduce re-admissions of current patients and prevent cardiac episodes from the outset,” Dr. Rubin continues. “This will save lives and help to reduce the cost of care in Ontario.” A life-saving tool, cardiac rehabilitation offers a comprehensive approach to health by combining medical treatments and lifestyle modification. Patients are able to benefit from a variety of services, including: education sessions, nutritional assessment with a dietitian, risk factor treatment (hypertension, cholesterol and smoking cessation) by physicians and nurse practitioners, medication review with a pharmacist, targeted exercise prescription by an exercise physiologist, nurse or kinesiologist and supervised exercise.

“Cardiac rehab is a life-saver – it’s as powerful as aspirin,” says Dr. Caroline

Chessex, Clinical Director of the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Prevention Program at the PMCC. “If you go through cardiac rehab your chances of survival are 25 per cent greater than if you do not.” Dr. Chessex is leading a multidisciplinary team who treat patients by developing a personalized exercise program tailored to each patient’s cardiac risk profile.

“Cardiac rehab also helps prevent readmissions to hospital, and so saves the system health care costs and resources,” she continues. “In spite of this evidence, only 20 to 30 per cent of patients are referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program after hospital discharge, a phenomenon observed in many countries.”

Researchers at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre are exploring multiple strategies to increase referrals to cardiac rehabilitation programs at 11 hospitals across Ontario, including using a discharge checklist for doctors, electronic referral in medical records and talking with patients at the bedside.

Continuum of care

Dr. Sherry Grace, principal investigator and Director of Research for the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Prevention Program at the PMCC and Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science at York University, also believes in the value of cardiac rehab.

“Every patient discharged from the hospital with a heart condition should be referred to a cardiac rehab program,” says Dr. Grace. “Cardiac rehab is a key component of the continuum of cardiac care. We shouldn’t just discharge patients from the hospital without ensuring there is a link to these proven rehab services to support patients in their recovery.”