In November 1946, the Canadian Heart Association was founded by three Canadian heart specialists who sought to better understand how to prevent, diagnose, treat patients with cardiovascular ailments and improve their outcomes. Dr. Cecil Blanchard (1886-1951) guided the organization as its first president from 1947 to 1949. In 1962, the Association renamed itself the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS).
Since 1947, deaths from cardiovascular disease in Canada have decreased by 75% – an achievement made possible by our members and our partners in science, education and advocacy. Today, we are recognized for the quality of our guidelines, our journals, our Congress, our professional development programs, and the innovative ways we bring our community together and, overall, the widespread level of excellence encountered in the Canadian cardiovascular field. Surely our founders would be very proud.
I am humbled to serve as president at this moment in our history. The measure of our society’s relevance and impact are demonstrated by our collective moments of leadership in science and clinical practice. I am in awe of the distance we have traveled together, and I have great anticipation about where we will go next, as we make our way to 100 years.
I invite you to scroll down to read about the many facets of the work that we do, past and present.
Dr. Marc Ruel MD, MPH, FRCSC, FCCS, FAHA
President, Canadian Cardiovascular Society
The idea of creating a cardiology journal first surfaced in the early 1960s. The vision came to life when the premiere issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (CJC) was published in January 1985. In 1991, the CJC became the official journal of the CCS. Dr. Robert Beamish was first Editor-in-Chief, followed by Dr. Eldon Smith. In 2011, the CCS purchased the journal. Dr. Stanley Nattel was Editor-in-Chief at the time — a position he still proudly holds. Today, the CJC is a widely read and respected journal with an Impact Factor that has exceeded 5.0 since 2019. Building on this success, the CCS expanded its family of publications. It now includes CJC Open and, in early 2022, will launch its third publication, the CJC of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease.
We advance heart health for all through our advocacy work — from lobbying for changes to health care systems, reporting on and demanding a decrease in wait times for cardiac care, and calling for action on climate change. Between 2015 and 2020, the CCS advocated to the federal government for funding to secure and expand our national reporting system on cardiovascular care quality, better known as the Quality Project. This included meetings with federal policy makers, three appearances before the federal Standing Committee on Finance, and four consecutive recommendations for funding in the annual federal budget. Through this work, we have solidified our reputation as a voice of authority on heart health and heart care. We continue to engage with elected officials across all party lines on issues that are important to our members and Canadians, alike.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, this month we draw attention to the expanding and increasingly respected role of women in cardiovascular medicine and sciences. A devoted CCS member, Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai became the first female president of the CCS in 1999. Completing her term in 2002, she paved the way for the many other women profiled in the image here. Prior to becoming CCS president, Dr. Collins-Nakai oversaw the transformation of the CCS Annual Scientific Meeting into a collaboration of partners and sister Societies (Affiliates) that today forms the largest annual cardiovascular meeting in Canada. Her many contributions continue to be felt to this day. There is still distance to go in advancing women in cardiovascular medicine, and Dr. Collins-Nakai’s leadership achievements inspire us to continue.
In 1997, the first two Affiliates – the Canadian Society of Echocardiography and the Canadian Association of Interventional Cardiology – joined the CCS. Since then, other cardiovascular societies have formed and come on board. In 2020, the One Heart Team model was adopted, outlining the many ways CCS and the Affiliates can work together on common priorities such as membership, fundraising, continuing professional development, and advocacy. Together, we are a strong, unified voice making a difference for our members and the patients we serve. There are currently 13 proud CCS Affiliates working hand-in-glove with the CCS to ensure Canadians experience the best in cardiovascular care.
The CCS Clinical Practice Guidelines serve to continually improve the quality of cardiovascular care. They contribute to better patient outcomes, greater cost-effectiveness, and they highlight areas for further research. Guidelines development is a key activity of the CCS, and the presentation of Guidelines is an anticipated event at the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. Back in 1976, the CCS published the angina pectoris classification system which, today, is found in patient charts around the globe. Each year, new or updated CCS Guidelines are released, along with companion resources to support knowledge translation and offer a practical approach to patient care. The pocket guides – well-loved quick reference tools with essential diagnostic and treatment recommendations from CCS Guidelines – are always in high demand. Every year, the CCS distributes an average of 30,000 pocket guides!
It all began with three doctors who pondered the idea of forming a professional group of heart specialists who could collaborate, connect, and learn from each other. The CCS was originally known as the Canadian Heart Association and in June 1947, a constitution was drafted and an election of officers was held. The Canadian Heart Association / Société canadienne de cardiologie was incorporated in 1949. Some 10 years later, the name was legally changed to the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Now, as it turns 75, the CCS has more than 2,300 members and is known and respected by cardiovascular healthcare professionals across Canada and around the world.
The CCS Research Fellowships & Awards Program was established in 2014 to foster the growth of peer-reviewed Canadian cardiovascular research and researchers. With support from like-minded organizations committed to empowering clinician scientists nationally, this growing program supports clinician scientists who tackle issues that span the various disciplines of cardiovascular medicine. Since its inception, we have awarded more than $3 million in funding to 67 deserving awardees. This essential program is made possible thanks to the efforts of many CCS members who have acted as peer-reviewers over the years, as well as the visionary support of our funding partners.
The annual CCS Recognition Awards give our members the opportunity to nominate and recognize current and future leaders. The awards program began in 1970 and, since then, has paid tribute to more than 200 CCS members and their diverse accomplishments. Awards are granted for excellence in research, teaching, mentorship, leadership, exemplary care, prevention, and overall career contribution. Awards are presented at a ceremony held as part of the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. Visit the CCS website for the next call for nominations. We invite you to look across our rich and diverse membership to nominate colleagues whose commitments to cardiovascular medicine merit national recognition.
Education is at the core of our mission. In 1961, we successfully petitioned the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to recognize cardiology as a medical specialty. We were also instrumental in getting cardiac surgery recognized as a specialty, and advocated successfully for the development of Area of Focused Competence diploma programs. As times and circumstances evolve, we adapted to meet the learning needs of our members and the broader cardiovascular community through a variety of in-person and online learning programs. The CCS is a leader in continuing professional development and knowledge translation for cardiovascular specialists and, since 2000, we continue to fulfill our role as an accredited provider for the Royal College Maintenance of Certification Program.
October 2022 marks the CCS’ 75th scientific meeting. The original event served as the launch pad for the first Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC) held in 2000 in Vancouver, with 3,300 delegates. Twenty years later, in 2020, the CCS held its first digital CCC, proving we can adapt and still provide quality learning and networking opportunities. Today, the event is the largest annual gathering of cardiovascular and allied health professionals in Canada. Cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, researchers, pharmacists, nurses, technologists, and other cardiovascular specialists from across Canada and around the globe come to the CCC to connect with colleagues, attend cutting edge, accredited education sessions and discover how to incorporate the latest science into practice.
Trainees represent the future of cardiovascular care in Canada and are an essential part of the CCS membership. In 2000, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Academy (CCSA) became a registered charitable organization to complement the Society’s activities and help support the educational goals of young, prospective cardiovascular specialists and researchers. The CCSA provides cardiovascular trainees with programs and services that span their career — from the moment they begin specialized training until the completion of their seventh year of full practice. Every year, the CCSA receives generous donations from more than 600 CCS members. To date, donors have contributed more than $1.2 million, helping to support over 1,200 medical students, PhD and post doc researchers, and trainees.
Today, we are more than 2,300 members strong and renowned for the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, the CCS Angina classification system, the pan-Canadian Access to Care Benchmarks for the entire continuum of cardiovascular care, and the development of Canadian recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure and many other accomplishments. We have grown into the organization we are today because of our members. This month, we celebrate our diverse membership and thank you for your support along this remarkable journey. CCS would not be what it is today without YOU.