I’ve been a leading scientist in the prevention of heart disease for more than 20 years and more recently, I have been diagnosed with heart disease myself. I’ve started this blog as a way to share my research and personal experience with heart disease to help others get the most out of life by being healthy.
Ever since I was in high school I wanted to have a career in health research. There was just something that attracted me to it; maybe it was being part of something that can help people. As a first step, I enrolled in a health focused degree. After looking into several exceptional programs, the call of the oceans and mountains won and as a 19-year old I moved out west to attend the kinesiology program at Simon Fraser University.
The program did not disappoint. I learned about human physiology, exercise science, and aspects related to health and fitness. My interests soon turned towards cardiac physiology as I was fascinated by the heart as the engine of the body. I went on to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of British Columbia. I was fortunate to find a research-focused physician working in the Healthy Heart Program; a cardiac rehabilitation program at St. Paul’s Hospital, which allowed me to work directly with patients and people for my research.
During my PhD I worked with some of the leading minds in this area. I also spent time at Stanford University and received my American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Specialist certification.
After completing my degree I began work as a professor at Simon Fraser University and established the Community Health Research Team. I was later awarded the Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s Hospital in recognition of my research contributions.
Over the past two decades my research has helped people get healthier and get more out of the health care system. Working alongside patients, doctors and health care administrators, I have used simple technology to solve challenges in the health care system to deliver heart health care to patients living in small urban and rural areas, demonstrated links between our environment and behaviours such as physical activity and nutrition, and investigated the relationship between obesity and heart disease.
In February 2017 (at the age of 47) I underwent investigation for an exercise-induced arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and was diagnosed with supra-ventricular tachycardia. At the same time, I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease (a 20% blockage in one of my main arteries in my heart). This was a total shock to me as I’ve spent my whole career life trying to prevent heart disease through my research. Needless to say, this added a new perspective into my work.
My new diagnoses made me reflect on my life (family, friends, work) and what I want to continue to do for the remainder of it. Much of my research has been published in medical journals that impress my colleagues and superiors, but does very little to reach the people who may benefit the most from it. As I got into this field to help people stay healthy I thought starting a blog would be a great way to share my knowledge and experience with a broader audience.
In this blog, I draw upon my scientific expertise and patient experience to write about issues on maintaining a healthy lifestyle for general well-being, and for the prevention and management of common conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Specific topics will cover areas like physical activity/exercise and healthy nutrition. In addition, I will focus on areas regarding the health care system and how we as patients can get the most out of it.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog and find this knowledge helpful in your daily life.
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