What Are the Top 10 Rare Heart Diseases in Canada?

Although heart disease is a well-known health issue, some rare heart disorders are deserving of special attention because of their unusual prevalence and distinctive features. Healthcare providers in Canada deal with a variety of uncommon cardiac disorders that call for specialized attention and care. In this blog post, we will examine Canada’s top 10 unusual cardiac conditions, illuminating their names, signs, and difficulties for both patients and medical professionals.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

The left ventricle, in particular, thickens due to the uncommon hereditary condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, according to the Mayo Clinic. This can impede blood flow and cause dizziness, dyspnea, and chest pain. Early detection and treatment are crucial to avoiding problems.

Pulmonary Hypertension

A rare illness known as pulmonary hypertension causes high blood pressure to damage the lungs’ arteries. This can put stress on the heart over time and cause right heart failure. The symptoms include exhaustion, respiratory problems, and ankle and leg edema. Early discovery with a pulmonary function test and specialized care are essential for the management of this illness.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) in Young Adults

Although atrial fibrillation is a common illness, young adults are less likely to acquire this abnormal heartbeat. AFib can elevate the risk of stroke and other heart-related problems, says the National Institutes of Health. Medication and lifestyle modifications may be part of managing symptoms and lowering the risk of the issues.

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (Broken Heart Syndrome)

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome,” is a rare illness that develops as a result of extreme physical or mental stress. It imitates the shortness of breath and chest pain associated with a heart attack. Even though it’s typically transient, getting checked out to rule out other cardiac problems is necessary.

Kawasaki Disease and its Cardiac Complications

According to the Mayo Clinic, children are the primary victims of Kawasaki disease, which can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries. It can lead to heart problems, including aneurysms if therapy is delayed. Early detection and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment are essential to avoid heart-related problems.

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD)

Scar tissue and fat replace the heart muscle cells in the right ventricle in ARVD, a rare genetic condition. In severe circumstances, this can result in abnormal heart rhythms and abrupt cardiac arrest. Medication and, in certain situations, implanted defibrillators may be part of the treatment.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

An uncommon disorder called restrictive cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscles to harden, restricting the heart’s capacity to contract and grow. Fatigue and fluid retention are two signs of heart failure that may result from this. The goal of management is frequent symptom relief, which may entail drug use.

Brugada Syndrome

A rare genetic disorder called Brugada syndrome can result in potentially fatal arrhythmias. The heart’s ventricles exhibit aberrant electrical activity, its defining feature. An implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be used as part of treatment to track and stabilize abnormal beats.

Coronary Artery Disease

Certain types of coronary artery disease, such as triple-vessel disease, can be less common, even if they are not usually regarded as unusual. It entails severe blockages in three of the main coronary arteries and may need specialized procedures like angioplasty or bypass surgery.


Myocarditis, or heart muscle inflammation, can result from viral infections or autoimmune diseases. It may result in symptoms like weariness, abnormal heart rhythms, and chest pain. Managing symptoms and treating the underlying cause are the main goals of treatment.

Patients and healthcare professionals in Canada face particular difficulties as a result of these uncommon cardiac illnesses. Early diagnosis, specialist care, and comprehensive knowledge of these conditions are necessary for these rare cardiac abnormalities to improve and for the afflicted to be well. To advance our understanding of these illnesses and our options for treatment, awareness and continuous research are essential.

Sources: www.heart.org ; www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov; www.cdc.gov; www.health.harvard.edu

WELL Health Diagnostic Centres‘ 40+ Ontario locations provide OHIP-covered cardiology, radiology, women’s health, telehealth, and sleep diagnostic services – with shorter wait times, faster report turn-around, and the highest standard of patient care.


What are the 4 stages of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)?

The degenerative illness known as congestive heart failure, or CHF, impairs the heart’s capacity to pump blood effectively. Patients and medical practitioners must understand the four different stages of CHF. The stages of congestive heart failure (CHF), associated symptoms, and holistic care approaches that might enhance the quality of life for individuals with CHF are all covered in this blog post.

Stage 1: At-Risk (Pre-CHF)

According to the National Institutes of Health, stage 1, sometimes referred to as the “At-Risk” or “Pre-CHF” stage, is when the journey through CHF starts. At this stage, people may have risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of heart disease, that make them more likely to develop heart failure. Even though heart failure may not have any apparent symptoms, it is still essential to address these risk factors with lifestyle modifications and routine check-ups with the doctor.

Stage 2: Mild Heart Failure

The second stage of mild heart failure is when it starts. The heart’s capacity to pump blood starts to deteriorate at this point, although symptoms are still somewhat manageable. Breathlessness, exhaustion, and foot and ankle edema are possible side effects. It takes medical intervention, such as medication and dietary changes, to reduce heart failure symptoms and decrease the disease’s progression.

Stage 3: Moderate Heart Failure

When CHF reaches Stage 3, symptoms intensify and have a significant influence on day-to-day functioning. Increased exhaustion, breathing problems even when at rest, and fluid retention in different body areas are possible symptoms for patients. Advanced medication and increased monitoring result in more extensive medical management. At this point, lifestyle changes are crucial, such as a low-sodium diet and consistent exercise based on the patient’s capacities.

Stage 4: Severe Heart Failure

Severe heart failure is represented by level 4, the last level of CHF. At this stage, the heart’s capacity to pump blood is seriously impaired, making it difficult for patients to carry out even the most basic daily tasks. Severe weariness, ongoing dyspnea, and recurrent hospitalizations are possible symptoms. For qualifying individuals, advanced therapeutic alternatives, including heart transplantation or ventricular assist devices (VADs) can occasionally be considered.

Holistic Care for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Patients

For CHF patients, holistic therapy entails a thorough strategy that takes into account lifestyle, mental, and physical aspects, says the American Heart Association. It involves routine physical examinations, prescription administration, and weight and hydration tracking. Furthermore, to assist patients in managing the psychological effects of CHF, medical professionals frequently suggest stress management methods, emotional support, and counselling.

Personalized Care Strategies

Since every CHF patient differs, tailored care plans must meet each person’s requirements and preferences. In close collaboration with patients, healthcare professionals create a personalized care plan that considers each patient’s unique symptoms, heart failure stage, and treatment objectives. This individualized approach enhances the patient’s general health and quality of life.

Lifestyle Modifications Across Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Stages

Lifestyle changes are essential for controlling CHF regardless of the condition’s stage. According to the Mayo Clinic, these adjustments could consist of:

  • Diet: Dietary adjustments include eating a heart-healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limiting salt consumption to control fluid retention.
  • Exercise: Performing regular physical activity to the best of the patient’s ability to enhance general health and cardiovascular fitness.
  • Medication Adherence: Strictly taking prescribed drugs as directed to manage symptoms and stop further decline.
  • Cessation of Smoking: Giving up smoking will lower your risk of problems and strengthen your heart.
  • Stress Management: Using methods for reducing stress, such as mindfulness, meditation, or relaxation exercises, to enhance emotional health.

It is critical for both patients and medical professionals to comprehend the four stages of congestive heart failure (CHF). Early identification and treatment for CHF patients can significantly enhance outcomes and quality of life. At every stage of the illness, people can overcome the obstacles posed by CHF and move toward improved heart health by implementing tailored and comprehensive care techniques.

Sources: www.heart.org ; www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov; www.cdc.gov; www.health.harvard.edu

WELL Health Diagnostic Centres‘ 40+ Ontario locations provide OHIP-covered cardiology, radiology, women’s health, telehealth, and sleep diagnostic services – with shorter wait times, faster report turn-around, and the highest standard of patient care.


Heart Failure vs. Heart Attack: Symptoms & Action

It’s critical to recognize the difference between a heart attack and heart failure while dealing with cardiac issues. Although they have different causes, symptoms, and immediate reactions, both illnesses have the potential to be fatal. This blog post will cover everything from the distinctions between a heart attack and heart failure to identifying the signs, what to do in an emergency, how to get medical help, treatment options, preventive measures, and long-term strategies for keeping your heart healthy.

Recognizing Symptoms: Heart Failure vs. Heart Attack

Heart Failure: Also known as congestive heart failure (CHF), heart failure is a chronic illness in which the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, according to Healthline. The most typical signs of heart failure include exhaustion, edema in the ankles and legs, chronic coughing, especially at night, and shortness of breath. Certain patients also experience palpitations or flutters in the heart.

Heart Attack: Contrarily, a heart attack happens when there is an abrupt stoppage of blood supply to a section of the heart muscle, typically due to a blood clot. Chest pain or discomfort, pain spreading to the jaw, arm, or back, nausea, cold chills, and shortness of breath are some signs and symptoms of a heart attack. It’s crucial to remember that not everyone who has a heart attack feels chest pain.

Immediate Response: What to Do in a Heart Failure or Heart Attack

Heart Failure: Make sure the person is seated comfortably, and dial 911 right away if you think they may be suffering from heart failure. While waiting for medical assistance, reassuring the patient and offering emotional support is critical. Doctor-prescribed medication can help control the symptoms of heart failure.

Heart Attack: Call 911 right away if you think you may be having a heart attack, says the Mayo Clinic. Urge the person to eat one aspirin daily to help thin the blood and enhance blood flow. Avoid any demanding activities and maintain the person’s composure. During a heart attack, prompt medical attention, such as angioplasty or clot-busting drugs, is essential to reducing the amount of damage to the heart muscle.

Seeking Medical Assistance: Actionable Steps

Getting medical help as soon as possible is crucial, whether you’re having a heart attack or heart failure. Healthcare professionals will perform cardiology tests, such as electrocardiography, echocardiography, or coronary angiography to identify the precise ailment and ascertain the best line of treatment.

Treatment and Management Approaches

Heart Failure: Heart failure treatment aims to improve the heart’s ability to pump blood, ease symptoms, and improve the patient’s quality of life. ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and diuretics are among the often given medications. In addition, lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a heart-healthy diet, and regular exercise are crucial for managing heart failure.

Heart Attack: Prompt measures are essential to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. After that, doctors may recommend drugs, such as beta-blockers, statins, and aspirin to stop similar occurrences in the future. Long-term care must include lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a diet low in cholesterol.

Preventive Measures: Avoiding Heart Failure and Heart Attack

People should lead heart-healthy lifestyles to lower their risk of heart attacks and heart failure. This entails avoiding tobacco usage, controlling stress, eating a balanced diet, and getting frequent exercise. A healthcare provider’s routine examinations can assist in identifying and managing risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

Risk Factors and Precautions

High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and a family history of heart disease are frequently to blame for heart failure and heart attacks, according to the CDC. Those with these risk factors should exercise extra caution when managing their health and taking preventative steps.

Long-Term Heart Health Strategies

Heart health is ultimately a lifetime endeavour. Even after a heart attack or heart failure diagnosis, it’s critical to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. Regular medical monitoring, taking prescription drugs as directed, and having a solid support network can help you achieve a longer and healthier life.

Distinguishing between a heart attack and heart failure is essential for identifying symptoms and acting appropriately. Both problems need to be treated medically immediately, and the results can be significantly improved with early intervention. People can lower their risk and improve their heart health for years by implementing preventative measures and adhering to a healthy lifestyle.

Sources: www.heart.org ; www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov; www.cdc.gov; www.health.harvard.edu

WELL Health Diagnostic Centres’ 40+ Ontario locations provide OHIP-covered cardiology, radiology, women’s health, telehealth, and sleep diagnostic services – with shorter wait times, faster report turn-around, and the highest standard of patient care.



May is Hypertension Awareness Month

Did you know hypertension is the leading preventable cause of death around the world? If left untreated, it can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.

In recognition of Hypertension Awareness Month, MyHealth Centre is pleased to provide the following same-week, OHIP-covered cardiology services at more than 15 accredited facilities in Ontario:

  • Cardiology Consultation
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Exercise Stress Testing (GXT)
  • Holter Monitoring
  • Nuclear Cardiology (MPI)
  • Stress Echocardiography
  • Vascular Ultrasound


February is Heart Health Month

Did you know approximately 2.4 million Canadians have heart disease?

Heart disease generally means the heart is not working properly. Ischemic (or coronary) heart disease is the most common type, which refers to the narrowing of the heart’s arteries by a build-up of plaque. This restricts blood and oxygen throughout the body and can lead to a heart attack.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. Many risk factors are preventable, such as smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Some risk factors are unfortunately beyond our control, such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history.

At MyHealth Centre, we offer comprehensive heart care with state-of-the-art technology. Our diagnostic cardiac program includes:

  • Cardiology Consultation
  • Dietitian and Nutrition
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Holter Monitoring
  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
  • Pulmonary Function Test
  • Stress Test
  • Vascular Ultrasound
  • Ambulatory Blood Pressure


The three best lifestyle changes for Canadians with heart disease

By Jane Edgar, Freelance Writer

Approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults have heart disease. This makes the condition the 2nd leading cause of death in the country. Despite these discouraging numbers, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can positively affect one’s prognosis. Aside from doctor-recommended tips (e.g. refrain from smoking, limit alcohol use), there are other key strategies that can be used to fight against the effects of this devastating disease. Here are three of the best lifestyle changes that nearly all Canadians with heart disease can begin using immediately:

Switch to a low-carb diet

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, diets that feature higher-fat, low-carb meals can actually be healthy for those with heart disease. In fact, a group known as Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition (which represents 4,500 physicians) formally backed and promoted low-carb eating earlier this year. They spoke against the country’s current guidelines of a high-carb, low-fat diet, citing the many benefits of low-carb diets for patients. If an individual eats healthy sources of protein and avoids red meat, low-carb diets can lower bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and help the heart overall. When it comes to choosing between keto vs. Atkins diets, one’s individual health must be taken into consideration. If unsure, speaking with a nutrition professional can help establish which way of eating is best for you.

Walk as your primary source of exercise

Nearly every health professional will advise heart disease patients to exercise to some degree. While there are many excellent ways to get the necessary amount of activity, research has shown that one workout stands out above the rest. For those who have heart disease, walking produces numerous cardiovascular benefits. With minimal time invested (30 minutes/5 times per week), Harvard researchers report that “walking reduce[s] the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%, [and] cut[s] the risk of dying by 32%.” Unlike aerobic activities that can prove to be too strenuous, walking provides the perfect amount of physical activity to those who wish to improve their heart health.

Omega-3 fatty acids

In addition to having a diet rich in nutrients, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids is wise for those who have heart disease. Although it is a fat, omega-3 provides a tremendous amount of benefits for the heart. The Mayo Clinic reports that this substance has the power to “decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, and reduce irregular heartbeats.” One great way to consume omega-3 fatty acids is by eating certain types of fish, such as salmon.

Among the many things that you can do to improve your health after receiving a heart disease diagnosis, the three strategies noted above are some of the best choices available. As always, before making any significant changes, speak with your doctor to ensure that your choices are right for your individual situation.

June is Stroke Awareness Month

Did you know a stroke can happen at any age, and more commonly affects women? According to Heart & Stroke Foundation:

  • The risk of stroke is higher during pregnancy.
  • The risk of stroke increases during menopause.
  • Elderly women are especially vulnerable to both the likelihood and severity of a stroke.

Knowing the FAST signs (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) of a stroke is important because the faster you receive medical attention, the better their chance of minimizing damage to your health:

  • F: Face drooping – Ask the person to smile and see if one side is drooping.
  • A: Arm weakness – Ask the person to raise both arms.
  • S: Speech difficulty – People having a stroke may slur their speech or have trouble speaking at all.
  • T: Time to call 911!

Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of blood flow in the arteries leading to the brain (ischemic stroke). Other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke).

At MyHealth Centre, our diagnostic stroke tests include:

  • Cardiology Consultation
  • Echocardiogram
  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
  • PET/CT Scan
  • Vascular Ultrasound


Top 10 reasons to consult a Cardiologist


If your family-care doctor recommends you see a cardiologist, do it. Don’t put it off. You’ll regret it.


This is pretty much a given. You can see a full list of heart disease symptoms below. If you have any doubts about whether or not you are experiencing a symptom, however, get checked out.


If anyone in your family has or has had heart problems, you should be aware of heart disease symptoms and consider talking to a cardiologist about them.


Total cholesterol is the sum of all the cholesterol in your blood. The higher your total cholesterol, the greater your risk for heart disease (a cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher)


You have high blood pressure or a high systolic number. The systolic number on your blood pressure reading is the first number. (For example, if your reading is 120/80 (120 over 80), your systolic blood pressure is 120.)


Smoking is a huge risk factor for heart disease. It lowers the flow of oxygen to the heart and increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood clotting as well as damages the cells lining the arteries.


Unfortunately, diabetes can contribute to heart disease. If you experience symptoms of heart problems and are diabetic, you should see a cardiologist.


Preeclampsia is often a hidden risk factor for heart disease. The two times a woman is most likely to develop heart disease is during pregnancy or post-menopause.


You are over the age of 40 and starting a new exercise program. You may already be working with a doctor on being more active, but a cardiologist can check your heart health and recommend exercises that would be good for your heart.


Believe it or not, gum disease can happen when the body is inflamed. Patients with swollen gums often have heart disease.

Learn more about cardiology consultations

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

Many of us are familiar with the symptoms of heart diseases, such as a heart attack or stroke. However, there are other symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Severe pressure, squeezing, pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort that spreads into the shoulders, neck, arms or jaw
  • Chest pain that becomes more intense
  • Chest pain that isn’t relieved by rest
  • Chest pain combined with the following symptoms:
    • Sweating, cool, clammy skin and/or paleness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
    • Rapid or irregular pulse
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, upper back and/or chest
  • Hoarseness because of pressure on the vocal cords
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Low blood pressure

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, or if your primary care doctor recommends you see a cardiologist, don’t wait… Your heart is the most important muscle of your body, so take care of it!

Learn more about our Heart Health services