Friday’s highlights from the Canadian Stroke Congress

The Canadian Stroke Congress continues today in Quebec City, with over 100 speakers who will share their research discoveries with 800 delegates. The Congress is a catalyst for partnerships, collaboration, and new ideas, which are all aimed at improving the health of Canadians.

“The passion and innovation of Canada’s stroke researchers and practitioners make a true difference to the lives of families,” says Dr. Jeffrey Minuk, co-chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress. “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are living with the effects of stroke. The research discoveries shared at the Congress will fuel the ideas and inspire the people driving advances in prevention, care, and recovery.”

Friday Sept. 16 Conference Highlights

The Great Debate: Wake-Up Stroke: The revolutionary clot buster tPA can diminish or reverse the devastating effects of stroke if given within a few hours of the onset of stroke. And the new endovascular therapy cuts the overall death rate in half for people with major ischemic strokes. But it too must be given within the first hours following stoke. When someone wakes up with stroke symptoms, how does one know when the stroke occurred– and if they are eligible for these time-sensitive treatments? Two of Canada’s leading neurologists debate the pros and cons of treating wake-up ischemic stroke with these therapies, and look at the controversies surrounding the acute management of these patients. (Michael Hill and Mike Sharma, chaired by Gord Gubitz)

The Great Debate: Does Rehabilitation Really Matter? Yesterday Dr. Robert Teasell opened the Congress with a call for the need for earlier stroke rehabilitation and innovative new models of care. Today, leading specialists take a deeper dive into the debate on how to provide the best rehab to promote recovery. Can long-term recovery be predicted from the initial post-stroke level of impairment? How important are biological recovery processes in spontaneous post-stroke recovery? Does the extent to which people with stroke reengage within the community relate to their long-term outcomes? Chaired by Sean Dukelow, this debate squares off international experts with team members from Canada, the U.S., and the Netherlands.

Breaking down the barriers to recovery in rural Quebec: It’s essential to minimize the urban-rural discrepancies in access to stroke care. In a country the size of Canada, we have to be creative in finding ways to extend the best care to smaller communities, and provide consistent services and the best outcomes. What happens to stroke survivors who live outside city cores? Telestroke uses technology to connect referring and consulting healthcare sites for real-time assessment and management, providing stroke patients with extended access to treatments and services. The unfortunate reality: telestroke is underused. This Quebec research explores creative ways to bring the best care to smaller communities using telerehab. (Helene Corriveau, Sherbrooke, QC)

The stroke continuum of care in the province of Quebec: A health system leader gives her perspective on the stroke continuum of care – from prevention to assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation – in the province of Quebec (Josée Simoneau, Victoriaville QC)

A culture-based approach to blood pressure screening for Indigenous communities: Indigenous people in Canada have experienced poor health outcomes and a substandard state of health and well-being as a result of inadequate medical diagnosis and treatment of preventable diseases. Up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by reducing risk factors, including managing blood pressure, the leading cause of stroke. The Deseronto Blood Pressure Screening Project in Southeastern Ontario adapted their screening process based on Mohawk teachings. Study results found that culturally safe care provided in a manner in which Indigenous identity and personhood is acknowledged and valued is effective. These culturally inspired strategies will result in increased participation and could ultimately help to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke in this community and many others. (Maureen Buchanan & Kathy Brant (Kingston ON)

Driving a car post-stroke: Keys to independence. Only one in two stroke survivors return to driving after a stroke. This lowers their independence and quality of life, and increases costs to the health system. Yet only six per cent of people who have had a stroke in the Canada have access to driving rehabilitation ─ and those who do have to wait months to be seen. An early training driving program piloted by The Villa Medica hospital in Montreal promotes the safe resumption of driving for stroke patients. Based on scientific evidence and the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations, the program breaks new ground by working with an occupational therapist and using an innovative technique to guide driving rehabilitation. The program reduced waiting times by more than 50 per cent and received a 98 per cent satisfaction rate from its 300 participants. (Bruno Ollivry, Montreal QC)

Finding life after stroke: Challenges and opportunities. For people who experience stroke, survival is the first hurdle many face. But what happens after the patient leaves the hospital? Stroke recovery is a journey that can continue for years or a lifetime. And how does the stroke impact families and loved ones, who often take on the new – and often daunting – role of caregiver? The role that relatives or close friends of stroke survivors carry out is essential to the recovery journey. While stroke changes lives, it is important to know that there is life after stroke. From relearning routine activities and regaining abilities, to coping with frustrations and learning to be independent again, stroke shouldn’t have to prevent people from living their lives to their fullest capacities. Rehabilitation allows patients and their families to reach their full potential and accomplish meaningful activities and roles. For stroke survivors and their loved ones, continued advances in rehabilitation and recovery can mean real hope for a better future. (Annie Rochette, Montreal QC)

“From investing in high-impact stroke research, to delivering vital public education such as the FAST signs of stroke, Heart & Stroke is committed to saving lives and reducing disability,” says Dr. Patrice Lindsay, director of stroke for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “Despite progress, there is still much to be done. The evolving scientific evidence shared at Congress will inform and continue to shape health information and policy ─ and save lives.”


  • 62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.
  • More than 400,000 Canadians are living with long-term disability from stroke.
  • In the next two decades, the number of people living with long-term stroke disability will increase by 80 per cent to 726,000.
  • Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute after stroke.
  • Each year, more than 13,000 Canadians die from stroke.
  • Half of Canadians report having a close friend or family member who survived a stroke.
  • Stoke is a powerful predictor of dementia: Having a stroke more than doubles someone’s risk of developing dementia.

The Congress is being held in Quebec City from September 15 to 17, 2016. Follow us on Twitter @strokecongress, #CanadianStrokeCongress.


Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CSC policy or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Stroke Congress make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

Co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Stroke Consortium, the Canadian Stroke Congress is a uniquely Canadian forum for experts to share the latest research findings, exchange ideas, and make the connections which will change the future of stroke. It brings together researchers, neurologists, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, policy makers, health system decision makers – and many others – in an unprecedented opportunity to improve the brain health of Canadians.

The Canadian Stroke Consortium (CSC) is the professional organization for stroke neurologists, leading continuing education, advocacy and research for health care professionals. The CSC has several membership categories allowing a broad spectrum of health care professionals to benefit from its educational programs, clinical research, and advocacy efforts.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.

For media interviews, please contact:
Diane Hargrave
416-467-9954, ext. 104

After September 17, 2016, contact:
Jane-Diane Fraser
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
(613) 691-4020
Cell from Sept 15-17: 613-406-3282