Heart Niagara is a registered charitable non-profit organization founded in 1977 by Dr. Stafford Dobbin. His vision was to improve access to heart health services in all 12 Niagara municipalities through collaboration and program development.
Sudden cardiac arrest remains one of the leading causes of death among adults annually in North America. Chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in Niagara. These diseases often require hospitalization and medical treatment, which directly impacts health care costs, families and productivity.
Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable. Making healthy choices such as being physically active every day, eating healthy, living tobacco/smoke free and limiting alcohol use goes a long way to prevent and help control the effects of such diseases.
In 2017, Heart Niagara celebrated 40 years of providing community based cardiovascular health services, health promotion, and community development. Over the years, the organization has grown its programs to reach Niagara residents in schools, at work and throughout the community.
Heart Niagara established the Healthy Heart Schools’ Program in 1987. The program works with local schools to deliver lifesaving and disease prevention education to students in Grades 5, 7 and 9. More than 60,000 students have been visited through a partnership between Heart Niagara, Niagara Regional Public Health and each of the school boards.
To date, Heart Niagara has contributed to 39 studies utilizing the Healthy Heart Schools' Program's data and is a major supporter of prevention research.
In 2000, Heart Niagara helped to establish the Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program for the region, in conjunction with Niagara EMS. Since the program began, Heart Niagara has helped to place approximately 680 AEDs in buildings and public locations across the region, including all secondary schools.
In October 2015, Heart Niagara launched an innovative strength training program and facility called, HeartCORE. Age and ability friendly, HeartCORE’s membership has steadily increased due to its unique high-intensity, low-frequency weight training, and professionally coached sessions. Daily physical fitness classes, yoga sessions, and monthly workshops have also been added to the HeartCORE program menu.
Due to Heart Niagara's tremendous growth and success in program delivery, in April 2016, board members announced the organization's relocation.
On July 5th, 2016, Heart Niagara moved to 4635B Queen Street in Niagara Falls. The new space has allowed the organization to increase services and improve access to programming in Niagara.
During 2016, Heart Niagara was able to reach over 20,000 multi-generational people through the Healthy Heart Schools' Program, community preparedness, diagnostic services, smoke cessation, kid’s programming, HeartCORE and corporate health, safety and wellness initiatives.
Heart Niagara marked their 40th anniversary of serving the Niagara area and empowering the community to take control of their heart health, but publishing a cookbook titled, The Heart of Your Community.
The focus of the cookbook is Niagara's bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables while providing guidance on how to eat seasonally using local food options. Additionally, the cookbook will promote heart healthy eating options to manage premature risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.