The first research program in British Columbia to focus on gender-based differences in cardiovascular disease has been established by the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care.
The UBC Heart and Stroke Foundation Professorship in Women’s Cardiovascular Health, held by Dr. Karin Humphries, will develop a focused and integrated vision for cardiovascular care, education and research for women throughout the province, including rural communities. The professorship will be based at St. Paul’s Hospital.
Although often perceived as a “men’s disease,” cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is the leading cause of death for women in British Columbia and Canada. Approximately 35,000 women in Canada, including more than 4,800 in British Columbia, die of heart disease or stroke each year.
Dr. Humphries will focus on researching the detection and early treatment of cardiovascular disease and finding new ways to improve the education of physicians, women and their families on heart disease and stroke. She will also develop strategies to improve outcomes for women at highest risk, including Aboriginal and South Asian women and those of poor socio-economic status.
Dr. Humphries is a leading research scientist at the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS) at St. Paul’s and an associate professor in the division of cardiology in the department of medicine, with extensive experience studying gender-related differences in cardiovascular disease. She will be a national Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada spokesperson on women’s cardiovascular disease.
“For decades, cardiovascular disease was considered a man’s disease, but the reality is that more women are dying of heart disease than men,” Dr. Humphries said. “Although evidence suggests that gender differences can affect the prevalence, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of cardiovascular disease, we haven’t seen enough research in this area of study.”
The professorship, a partnership between St. Paul’s Hospital and UBC, is being supported in part through $1.25 million from the Ministry of Health through Cardiac Services BC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. In addition, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada contributed $500,000.
“The UBC Heart and Stroke Foundation Professorship in Women’s Cardiovascular Health at St. Paul’s Hospital is a crucial step towards improving the way cardiac services are managed and accessed throughout the province,” said Dr. Gavin C.E. Stuart, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and UBC’s vice provost health. “Dr. Humphries’ extensive research in this field makes her the ideal person to lead the development of a focused and integrated vision for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular health in women in B.C.”