Heart and Stroke Foundation – Alberta, NWT & Nunavut

Our mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. As a volunteer-based health charity, we improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Together we make healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke.

Picture of father giving son a ride on his back while wife and mother gazes on happily in the backgroundOur Story Why We Exist

Blanche Gray loves to tell everyone about the commercial that saved her life.

It was January, 2015 and Blanche turned on the television to watch the evening news in her Mississauga, Ont., living room. The newscast hadn’t started, so the grandmother of 10 sat through the commercial run, including an ad about the signs of stroke created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. 

The phone rang during the news. It was her daughter Lynn and they started to chat but, within seconds, Blanche’s voice began to wobble.  Something horrible was happening. Her words had deteriorated into a garble. 

“Mom, what’s the matter with you?” Blanche replied: “I think I’m having a stroke.

Lynn called 9-1-1 and the paramedics arrived quickly to Blanche’s house and transported her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a TIA or mini-stroke.

Looking back, Blanche counts herself as lucky. “In those few minutes, I recognized that the things they talked about on TV were happening to me. Pay attention to the signs your body gives you. That’s what I did and that’s why I got through it so well. If I hadn’t seen that commercial, I probably wouldn’t have recognized I was having a stroke.”


Decades of research have led to advances and breakthroughs that have greatly improved the lives of all Canadians. Fifty years ago, heart patients convalesced for months, were told not to return to work and to avoid physical activity. They were often advised to buy a nice rocking chair! Survivors today however are often discharged within a few days. They can be back to work in a few weeks. Many return to a normal life or adopt an even more physically active lifestyle than ever.

Picture of mid-age husband with arms around wife, planting kiss on cheek while she smiles happilyOur Impact What We Do

Canadians are living longer than ever, with an expectation that those additional years will be quality years filled with health and vitality. Sadly, research shows that many of us will spend our last ten years in sickness due to heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions.

For more than 60 years, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has been working to reduce the toll of heart disease and stroke and tangibly improve the health of all Canadians. Through our mission priorities - preventing disease, saving lives and promoting recovery - we are creating more survivors.

Through cutting-edge medical research and wide-ranging public health education we work to empower Canadians to take charge of our health and live our fullest lives possible. Despite remarkable progress, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s work is more urgent than ever, because heart disease and stroke take one life every seven minutes in Canada. The Foundation is working towards achieving major goals by 2020 that will impact all Canadians:

  1. To significantly improve the health of Canadians by decreasing their risk factors for heart disease and stroke by 10 per cent;
  2. To reduce Canadians’ rate of death from heart disease and stroke by 25 per cent.

The funds raised across Canada will go on to support life-giving heart and stroke research, public education and create more survivors. Let us tell you how, by discovering our impact.  

Family of grandparents and two young children walk into the sunset on a summer dayOur Programs How We Do It

Disease Prevention 

Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke (smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes). The Foundation is working to decrease the prevalence of risk factors, empowering Canadians to live healthier lives. 

  • More than one-quarter of Canadian children aged 2-17 are overweight or obese and fewer than one in 10 are active enough to meet Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. We work to reverse those trends and give children and youth the best start for a long, healthy life.
  • We coordinate Jump Rope for Heart programs hundreds of Heart Healthy Kids interactive presentations in classrooms across the province of Alberta.
  • We are active members of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention. Donor support will help underwrite its collective impact on priorities set by 17 member organizations.
  • Read about our national programs that help prevent disease; and 
  • We provide funding for researchers focused on lab-to-bedside advancements.

Saving Lives

Almost 69,000 Canadians die from cardiovascular disease each year. The toll includes an estimated 40,000 sudden cardiac arrests, most resulting in death. The Foundation is working to save lives by enabling faster, better cardiac emergency response and treatment.

  • In 2014, HSF facilitators delivered 4,460 courses on CPR or how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to 28,583 participants in the Calgary/Banff region
  • An estimated 50,000 strokes occur each year in Canada; it is the third leading cause of death in Canada. The Foundation is working to save lives by enabling faster, better treatment of stroke.
  • Read about our national programs that help save lives.

Promoting Recovery

Calgary is host to a very successful  support program for families of children affected by stroke.

  • The Foundation is working to increase the quality of life for people living with heart disease and stroke and help them reduce their risk of further incidents.
  • Read about our programs that help promote recovery and how Foundation funding is contributing to cutting-edge research by Dr. Adam Kirton and Dr. Sean Dukelow at the University of Calgary.

Group of multicultural, multi-age individuals raising hands in the airOur Requests What You Can Do

Our volunteers have been making a difference in the lives of Canadians through their generous gifts of time, skill and commitment. However, millions of us are still at risk and could be for generations to come. There is still so much to do and there are so many ways to help.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation relies on volunteers with a wide variety of skills, putting their expertise to work through one of our many volunteer opportunities. You can help in so many ways - click here to learn more.

Every gift counts. We welcome on-line donations, legacy giving, and would be pleased to meet with you to discuss pledges or major gifts. There are many ways to contribute to our mission priorities, such as:

  • $10,000 will help Albertan students learn the lifesaving skills of CPR and know how to use an AED. Any one of us can suffer a cardiac arrest. Are you prepared to help save lives?
  • $25,000 will fund a seed grant that provides researcher the opportunity to develop high-impact novel ideas and encourage innovative peer-reviewed research with the potential for significant impact on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health
  • $59,000 will help 17 organizations improve healthy food environments in recreation facilities through a collective impact project
  • $100,000 will provide peer-reviewed researchers with a Grant in Aid for studies that have a high likelihood of advancing our ability to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. Potential for naming the award in your honour.
  • $200,000 will fund a New Investigator Award that nurtures and builds the capacity of heart and stroke research in Alberta, for clinicians with an MD or PhD who have clearly demonstrated excellence and hold a faculty appointment at an Alberta institution.