Dr. Parry’s program of research focuses on reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease and its complications. She is interested in interventions to improve health and wellbeing, patient-oriented research (POR), and sex- and gender-specific differences.
Interventions to Improve Health and Wellbeing
The leading cause of premature death for Canadian women is cardiovascular disease. In Canada, a woman dies every 20 minutes from heart disease and in 78% of women, early signs of a heart attack are missed. Good health focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the wellbeing of all people at all ages, with a focus to reduce premature mortality through prevention and treatment and the promotion of health and wellbeing. Self-management programs allow people to take an active part in the management of their own health conditions.
Patient-oriented research (POR) is focused on engaging patients, their caregivers, and families as partners in the research process. POR has a positive impact on research in the areas of: 1) setting research priorities, 2) developing proposals, 3) informing the cultural appropriateness of the research, 4) recruiting and retaining participants, 5) identifying outcomes important to patients, and 6) disseminating results. Building relationships, improving research quality and impact, and developing best practices underpin values that impact patient engagement in cardiovascular research.
Sex- and Gender-Specific Differences
Sex and gender terms continue to be used interchangeably and incorrectly applied in cardiovascular research, suggesting there is a lack of appreciation that these are distinct concepts. Applying sex and gender terms requires a biological and/or sociocultural focus; it involves asking different questions and taking different approaches to collecting and analyzing research results. Women’s hearts are biologically (sex) different than that of men. Women’s hearts and coronary arteries are smaller and atherosclerotic plaque builds up differently in women’s coronary arteries. The difference in plaque formation, especially in younger women, partly explains why early signs of heart disease are missed in women. Traditional (e.g., diabetes, hypertension) and non-traditional (e.g., pregnancy complications, inflammatory arthritis) cardiovascular disease risks are different or unique in women compared to men. Women describe signs of a heart attack differently than men. Women also minimize their symptoms, prefer to consult with family and friends, have caring responsibilities and concerns for their family and as a result, delay seeking appropriate care for their cardiac pain and cardiac symptoms.