Scientists open new doors for women’s health

Jennifer Campos, Ph.D., Canada Research Chair (II), Senior Scientist, and Academic Associate Director at UHN’s KITE Research Institute. Photo UHN.
Jennifer Campos, Ph.D., Canada Research Chair (II), Senior Scientist, and Academic Associate Director at UHN’s KITE Research Institute. Photo UHN.

Being greeted by Jennifer Campos, Ph.D., Canada Research Chair (II), Senior Scientist, and Academic Associate Director at UHN’s KITE Research Institute’s Open Doors Toronto May 25th event, made my day. Jennifer, along with many of her colleagues, amazed 1,800 visitors with numerous innovative research and rehabilitation projects.

Susan Marzolini, R.Kin, Ph.D., a scientist and clinician at KITE (Knowledge, Innovation, Talent, Everywhere). Photo Kite Studio.
Susan Marzolini, R.Kin, Ph.D., a scientist and clinician at KITE (Knowledge, Innovation, Talent, Everywhere). Photo Kite Studio.

She, in turn, introduced me to Susan Marzolini, R.Kin, Ph.D., a scientist and clinician at KITE (Knowledge, Innovation, Talent, Everywhere) who is also co-creator and lead with UHN’s Exercise and Risk Factor Modification Program for People following Stroke. As a young graduate student, keen basketball player and cyclist, Susan was inspired when working with the renowned Dr. Terence Kavanagh, whose 1960s research reversed the belief that bed rest versus exercise was best for stroke recovery. His legacy is the largest outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program in North America. (See Leaside Life, June 2024.) Susan reminisced, “Just two months before his death in 2018, he and his wife invited me over for dinner. He talked about the program’s history and his frustration that it was only for men.” Coincidentally, in 2018 Susan was selected by the World Heart Federation as an Emerging Leader in Stroke Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Treatment.

A March 2023 article on KITE’s website states: “Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death for women in Canada. Each year 25,000 women, one every 20 minutes, die because of cardiovascular disease. Despite these numbers, it’s estimated that two-thirds of all research in the area focuses primarily on men.” In the article, Racquel Brown, a member of Kite’s Cardiovascular Team, stated that “the project’s purpose is to stimulate research topics that address the unmet need of people who’ve experienced heart disease and clinicians’ focus in the field of women’s heart health and cardiac rehabilitation.”

Susan Marzolini is also a wiz at explaining her recently published paper, in the Journal of the American Heart Association. “Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability,” she summarized. “After a stroke, while most survivors regain the ability to walk, they will lack sufficient walking speed and endurance to resume regular day-to-day activities. This clinical trial identified the outcomes for post-stroke walking dysfunction after six months of a customized HIIT training protocol that included shorter sessions, 20 versus 30 to 60 minutes, and brief bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by intervals of low-intensity exercise.

“The training trial resulted in more than a two-fold, clinically significant, greater change in cardiorespiratory fitness and marked increases in participants’ six-minute walk distance. Additionally, HIIT was safe, and 96% of the patients completed the study.”

Susan urges everyone to heed the FAST symptoms of a stroke: Face drooping on one side, Arm or leg weakness or numbness, Speech – trouble speaking, and Time to call 911. Other stroke symptoms include loss of balance, trouble walking, or problems seeing out of one or both eyes.

Like Jennifer Campos, Susan emphasizes that scientists never work alone. “I’m grateful to the Brain Canada and Heart and Stroke foundations for funding for this research and to so many KITE colleagues like Sherry Grace, Tracey Colella, Paul Oh, Mark Bayley for their inspiring contributions. They’re all featured on the KITE website.” Visit the KITE website here

Join us, Team Leaside Life, opening doors in support of cardiac research, Sept. 8, 2024, at the UHN’s Rally for Research presented by BMO. For information on how to donate or join Team Leaside Life click here.

 

About Suzanne Park 63 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.