Getting to the heart of cardiac rehabilitation

York University researcher Sherry Grace (right) has been awarded the 2005 Career Scientist Award, worth $250,000 over five years, from the Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care and the Ontario Women’s Health Council. Grace, an assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in York’s Faculty of Arts, is investigating why there are delays in getting heart patients, in particular women, from the hospital into cardiac rehabilitation.

Research has shown that cardiac rehabilitation (CR), a program of exercise and education, works well to facilitate an individual’s recovery following heart problems or heart surgery. Despite its many benefits, CR is under-utilized by women. This could be due to the organization of the health system, patient preferences, or doctors’ referral practices.

Grace and her team of graduate student researcher are surveying patients and their doctors, measuring indicators in the heart health system and monitoring patients as they move through that system. Grace’s study outcomes will provide healthcare policy-makers with the information they need to identify ways to maximize CR use by women and marginalized groups of people.

“I was truly honoured to receive the Career Scientist Award. Competitions such as these are highly competitive,” said Grace. “Over the next five years, this award will enable my team of graduate students and myself to continue examining the cardiac care trajectory following a heart attach or procedure. It will certainly provide a richness to my undergraduate teaching through provision of real-life examples from the cardiac care system. This award will provide graduate students with the ability to conduct and disseminate their research within an applied heath setting.”

Left: Cardiac rehabilitation has proven benefits for patients recovering from heart problems or heart surgery

“Dr. Grace is one of many new young faculty within York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science undertaking health-related research. Her research will enlighten policy decision makers regarding methods to increase cardiac rehabilitation success in women,” said Prof. Roger Kelton, Chair of the School of Kinesiology & Health Science. “It is timely and important as governments struggle with increased demands on the health care system by an aging population. And the recognition from this award is timely as York University establishes a new Faculty of Health, and researchers such as Dr. Grace are members of the collegian in this new Faculty.”

The Career Scientist Award, supported by Ontario’s Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care in partnership with the Ontario Women’s Health Council, provides finanancial support for promising researchers who are in the early stages of their careers and who are focused on women’s health services research in Ontario. The award provides a salary subsidy for promising health researchers and enables recipients to devote a minimum of 75 per cent of their time to research in health services. Granted for five years, the ministry contributes $50,000 per year plus benefits to the scientist’s salary. The award program is part of the Health Research Personnel Development program of the government of Ontario. Grace’s research targets a key provincial government priority to increase access and improve women’s health care.

The award presentation will take place Jan. 20. For more information on the Career Scientist Award, click here for the Ontario Women’s Health Council Web site.