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Cheri McGowan, Kevin MilneUWindsor researchers Cheri McGowan and Kevin Milne are part of an international consortium studying how to get more cardiac patients participating in rehabilitation programs.

UWindsor researchers aim to improve lives of cardiac patients

Finding ways to get more cardiac patients participating in rehabilitation programs is the focus of a new research initiative co-founded by a UWindsor kinesiology professor.

“Cardiac patients around the world underutilize cardiac rehabilitation, despite evidence that these programs offer physical and mental health benefits,” said Cheri McGowan, a clinical cardiovascular and exercise physiologist in UWindsor’s Faculty of Human Kinetics.

Dr. McGowan is leading a cross-border team comparing cardiac rehabilitation models of care throughout the Great Lakes Region. Called the Great Lakes Cardiac Rehabilitation Consortium, it includes fellow UWindsor kinesiology professor Kevin Milne, and experts from the cardiac rehabilitation programs at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the Lawson Health Research Institute (St. Joseph’s Health Care London), the Henry Ford Medical Group (Henry Ford Health System) in Detroit, and the University of Michigan (Michigan Medicine) in Ann Arbor.

The consortium members include cardiologists, scientists, exercise specialists, physiologists, students and statisticians. They know there are barriers that keep cardiac patients from accessing programs and adhering to them. Their goal is to find solutions to help more patients access cardiac rehabilitation and improve long-term adherence to the healthy behaviours these programs try to instill in participants.

“To our knowledge, the consortium is the first of its kind in North America and lays a foundation for long-term international collaboration and impact, said McGowan. “This work will help optimize cardiac rehabilitation and potentially improve the lives of thousands in our individual communities and beyond.”

Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiac rehabilitation programs have proven to reduce hospitalizations and lower death rates.

Funding for the consortium’s early work comes from a Partners in Research grant from the University of Windsor and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

─ Sarah Sacheli

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