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CCORT is funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant in Cardiovascular Outcomes Research

CANHEART is funded by a CIHR Team Grant in Chronic Disease Risk & Intervention Strategies


 Improving Cardiovascular Disease Surveillance in
Canada's Ethnic Minority Groups

A  team of scientists from CCORT and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) have come together to study the role of ethnicity on cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and prevalence. This work, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), is being led by Dr. Jack Tu.

CVD, including stroke, is the leading cause of death in Canada and a tremendous burden to the Canadian health care system, with direct and indirect costs estimated at $22 Billion annually (2000).

PHAC and other organizations in Canada have made tremendous strides over the past few years in strengthening Canada's capacity to conduct CVD surveillance.  However, most existing surveillance initiatives lack information on the burden of disease in specific ethnic groups.

This study will help address a recommendation from the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan (CHHS-AP), namely to build Canada's knowledge infrastructure to enhance cardiovascular health, disease prevention and care. It will also enhance Canada's capacity to conduct surveillance of the burden of CVD among the major visible minority groups in Canada.

Study components
The study involves several components including:
  • Projects to determine the burden of a) hypertension (high blood pressure); and b) acute  myocardial infarction (heart attack) in visible minority populations in Ontario
  • An environmental scan of best practices for collecting ethnicity data in health care

Knowledge Translation
We are working with knowledge partners, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, to ensure that the findings from this research are made widely available to a range of audiences.

BC Ministry of Health - February 13, 2013
Dr. Jack Tu gave a presentation on CVD and ethnicity research to an audience of ~40 attendees from the BC Ministry of Health. This presentation reported on findings from a number of studies conducted by Dr. Tu’s team including the high degree of variability in the prevalence of CV risk factors and diseases across the four major ethnic groups in Ontario; health care utilization rates among visible minority census tracts in the Greater Toronto Area; and ethnic-specific BMI cutoff points for assessing diabetes risk. Dr. Tu also noted the need for further funding and research to better understand the causes of ethnic disparities in CVD outcomes. The presentation was well attended and included a Q&A session. 

ICES Cardiovascular Research Day - June 20, 2012
At the inaugural ICES Cardiovascular Research Day held this past June, two presentations addressed ethnicity and cardiovascular disease:

Schulich Heart Program Research Day - November 23, 2011
Dr. Jack Tu gave a Key Note Lecture on Ethnicity and Cardiovascular Disease in Ontario as part of the Schulich Heart Program Research Day: State-of-the-Art Cardiovascular Disease Management, November 23, 2011 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, in Toronto, Ontario. 

In this session Dr. Tu described demographic trends which are driving a growing need for coordinated collection of ethnicity data in health care to enable informed and appropriate care.  He also described key findings from his team’s research on differences in the prevalence of risk factors and cardiovascular disease in Ontarians across the four major ethnic groups: Chinese, South Asian, Black and White in Ontario, Canada.

Additional presentations on Ethnicity and Cardiovascular Disease in Ontario

January 19, 2012: Dr. Tu presented to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Department of Pharmacy
September 27, 2011: Dr. Tu presented at Research Rounds at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences

Canadian Cardiovascular Congress - October 29, 2012
Post doctoral fellow, Dr. Mohammad R. Rezai MD PhD, presented a poster entitled Cardiovascular (CV) risk factors and hospitalizations in visible minority neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area. This work identified that a) the burden of key CV risk factors; and b) CV hospitalization rates vary significantly among visible minority neighbourhoods in the GTA. These findings suggest the need for cardiovascular prevention strategies targeted towards high risk visible minority neighbourhoods in order to prevent future epidemics of CVD in Ontario. Further research is required to investigate the reasons for these striking geographical and ethnic disparities.


Publications related to the this study can be viewed here

Canadian Cardiovascular Congress - October 26, 2011
Ms. Bobbe Wood, President, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; Dr. Jack Tu; and Dr. Philip Joseph (for Dr. Sonia Anand), McMaster University; led a well-attended workshop at the CCC, on October 26, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The workshop, Cardiovascular disease and diabetes in multiculturally diverse communities: Lessons for CVD prevention, treatment, & management can be viewed here. 

Dr. Tu’s presentation addressed Ethnicity, CVD and Diabetes, highlighting how the burden of CVD and diabetes varies significantly across Ontario’s four major ethnic groups (Chinese, South Asian, Black, White). These findings plus recent demographic trends underscore the need for a) more research to study the relationship between risk factors, CVD events and long-term survival in different ethnic groups and b) collection of ethnicity data to enable this important research.

Questions/Contact Information
For more information regarding this initiative please contact:

Linda Donovan, BScN MBA
Project Manager
Canadian Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Team
c/o Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
G-106 2075 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario  M4N 3M5

e: linda.donovan@ices.on.ca
p: 416 480 4055 83773
f:  416 480 6048