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Lack of awareness of heart disease and stroke among Chinese Canadians: results of a pilot study of the Chinese Canadian Cardiovascular Health Project


Background — According to Statistics Canada's 2001 census, the Chinese make up the largest (27.5%) visible minority population in Canada. The cardiovascular health information for this population is therefore important for the allocation of healthcare and promotion resources.

Objectives — In the present pilot study, the authors sought to define the degree of awareness and knowledge of cardiovascular disease, as well as their risk factors, among the Chinese Canadian population.

Methods — A 16-item telephone survey was conducted among 1004 ethnic Chinese subjects (18 years of age and older) in the greater Toronto area of Ontario (n=503) and the greater Vancouver area of British Columbia (n=501) in February 2004.

Results — Among the respondents, 73% spoke Cantonese at home and 21% spoke Mandarin. Ninety-seven per cent were immigrants, and 53% had been in Canada for less than 10 years. A history of hypertension was reported in 9.2% of respondents, diabetes in 3.2% and high cholesterol in 14.5%. Thirty-two per cent and 40% of respondents were unable to name at least one symptom of heart attack or stroke, respectively, unaided. Thirty-two per cent and 35% of respondents named at least one incorrect symptom of heart attack and stroke, respectively. When asked about their immediate response in a hypothetical case of a heart attack or stroke, only 20% would have called 911.

Conclusions — The present study is the first to address the awareness of cardiovascular health and disease among Chinese Canadians. These data suggest that Chinese Canadians have a relatively low awareness of the warning symptoms for common cardiovascular emergency situations. The findings presented here have important implications for the development of future health promotion and research initiatives targeted to visible minority populations in Canada.



Chow CM, Chu JY, Tu JV, Moe GW. Can J Cardiol. 2008; 24(8):623-8.

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