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March 2007 - Nr. 3


The Editor
In Canada, eh?
"A Matter of Trust"
KW & Beyond
More of KW & Beyond
The Threepenny Opera
Erhard Matthaes
Dick reports...
AutoShow 2007
Have a (Healty) Heart
Welcome Al Gore!
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Ewa Podles at Roy Thompson
Nathaniel Dett Chorale
April Listings
Good Shepherd Wins
The Blind Boys of Alabama
Don't Let The Pigeon...
Planet in Focus Call
Aretha Franklin
Red Elvis
Organics Growing in Ontario
Canada's Food Aid
VW Seeks to Tempt US Buyers
Tempelhof to be Closed
Transatlantic Ties
Baby Boom
Germany's Dirk Nowitzki

Have a (healthy) Heart

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig WandschneiderOver decades and centuries we have managed to learn how to live longer, to grow tall, round, and heavy with less and less physical activity, more and more bad food and less and less time to look after ourselves. In the name of progress, we are living lives with more and more speed with less and less body movement. Our economic model and technology make it possible to accomplish all this with minimum effort.

Fortunately, in recent years we have begun to take inventory. "Wellness Centres" pretend to be something other than doctor’s offices. Gyms have popped up, so we can run or peddle without going anywhere. Then there are campaigns to stop smoking, maybe, just maybe, do something about the environment, serve veggie-burgers and salads, instead of stuffing ourselves with the 5th Billionth Burger.

But people are slow to change. The Canadian population has never been more overweight, not to say obese, than today. Heart disease and stroke are still the main causes of adult deaths in Canada. And our health care system still races along with us to help cope with resulting health problems, so we can continue doing more of the same.

Over 28 years ago, in 1978, an aspiring cardiac specialist, switched track, inspired by Dr. Terence Kavanagh, and opened a pioneering Cardiac Rehab Clinic located in Breslau, Ontario. This pioneer was Dr. John P. Schaman. His objective: to reduce the incidents of heart failure, reduce the need for Angioplasty and encourage a healthy lifestyle that would reduce, if not eliminate, the causes leading to these problems. Preventative and corrective maintenance, instead of invasive surgery, was the target.

How did he do? In the first 25 years of his clinic Dr. Schaman saw over 10,000 cardiovascular patients. And succeeded in cases, where even he thought, success was rather doubtful. An extreme case, perhaps, is the story of Keith, a man with genetic heart disease. Young relatives, near and far, suffered the same disease, and with or without surgical treatment, did not survive but for a short time after the disease was discovered and surgically treated. Keith had his heart attack at age 40 and had bypass surgery. A short time later, it became apparent that he would have to have a second operation. He refused and, 25 years ago, joined the then still new rehabilitation programme freshly established by Keynote speaker Dr. Schaman   [photo: Melissa Reitzel]Dr. Schaman at his Ontario Aerobics Centre in Breslau. He followed the rigorous programme to the letter, including the so-called "Reversal Diet", vital to the rehabilitation process of critical cases. There are many other cases like him, perhaps not as extreme, but talk to other patients, and you will hear similar stories.

In 1980, patients of the clinic formed the "Cardiac Fitness Association" (CFA), a charitable organization dedicated to the provision of cardiac rehabilitation services and education. Among their many activities is an Annual Dinner, which was held this year at the "St George Banquet Hall" in North Waterloo. Dinner guests   [photo: Melissa Reitzel]Over 120 members and friends of the CFA enjoyed a fabulous dinner, live comedy entertainment by Australian-born Peter Shaw, ticket draws and a keynote address by the celebrated Dr. John P. Schaman, who spoke on the "State of the heART", a review of the clinic and its programme, and an up-to-date understanding of the conditions that lead to heart failure. The lasting standing ovation was for the man, his passion to help his patients -, his success, and his tireless effort to fight the human demon: succumbing to the many temptations of the modern world.

The CFA Board   [photo: Melissa Reitzel]The clinic is financially supported by the CFA, and the Ontario Government since 2001. Continued funding by the Ontario Government was recently put in question by the Liberals. A year ago Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer, MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo (former Deputy Premier) and Conservative "Health and Long Term Care" Critic managed to get this statement from George Smitherman, the current Minister of the same department under the Liberals: "we will work to provide sustainable funding for that organization..." Considering the successes of the Clinic and the corresponding benefit to the Ontario Health Care system, how could they possibly do otherwise?

The drive for change is in the air at many levels. Here is one that it is hoped will catch on rapidly. Above all that Governments support this institution not only financially, but also with a positive drive to encourage similar ideas throughout the country.


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