Meet the Expert: A Woman’s Heart – The Truth About Women’s Heart Disease

From left to right, Dr. Kerri Mullen, Nadia Lappa, Paula Moore, Dr. Thais Coutinho, Ann-Marie Julien, and Marion Martel

On February 25, 2020, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Patient Alumni Association held another successful Meet the Expert event: A Woman’s Heart – The Truth About Women’s Heart Disease. The event featured experts and patients who shared their knowledge and experience of women’s heart disease and support for women with heart disease.  

Dr. Thais Coutinho, Chief, Division of Prevention and Rehabilitation at the Institute, who also leads the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre (CWHHC), offered a passionate presentation, where she outlined that women are very different when it comes to matters of heart health. She described interesting and very recent findings that are helping us better prepare clinicians and women themselves to recognize and manage heart conditions.  She challenged the terminology that labels women’s heart experiences as “atypical” – language that stigmatizes the experience for women.


Next, Dr. Kerri Mullen, Director of the CWHHC, presented an interesting overview of available programs and services offered by the Centre.  The services offered have evolved in the years since the CWHHC was created, as we have learned more about the realities and context of women’s experiences in relation to heart health.

Two former Heart Institute patients – Paula Moore and Nadia Lappa – generously shared their lived experience with openness and emotion. 
Each in their own way, they described what brought them to the Heart Institute, the emotions they had as they moved through their experience – including disbelief, feeling overwhelmed, and more – and where they find themselves today.  They talked of their participation in Programs offered by CWHHC and of the value of these programs in their recovery process. Both women are now involved in giving back to the community of women heart survivors. 

Many interesting and relevant questions were asked by guests, and the informal setting allowed for a vibrant exchange between guests and speakers. As demonstrated by the success of this evening, women’s heart health continues to be a matter of great interest and concern for us all – thank you to all who attended this session. 

If you were unable to attend in person, you can view a recording of the session  on our YouTube channel.

Additional information / resources related to Women’s Heart Health that were mentioned during the event are:

  • Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre –
  • Women@Heart Program (12 bi-weekly sessions with other women with heart conditions)
  • CardioPrevent (for people with risk factors to lower their chances of developing cardiovascular disease)
  • IMPROVE postpartum program (for women who have experienced certain pregnancy-related conditions to lower their chances of developing cardiovascular disease)

Women’s Heart Health Summit Note: Event postponed on April 2 and 3, 2020 (conference of national and international experts and stakeholders to further advance women’s heart & brain health)