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Dr. Ross Feldman

By MYRON LOVE
Dr. Ross Feldman, Medical Director, WRHA Cardiac Sciences Program and Professor of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, is one of the newest members of the Order of Canada.

 


“You get internal gratification for the things you accomplish during your career, but it is still nice being publicly recognized,” he says. “There are many illustrious people who are members of the Order of Canada. It is an honour being counted among them.”
Although this newest member of the Order of Canada is relatively new to our community – having been here little more than a year, he says that he felt right at home very quickly. One of the first things he did was join the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue. He says that he really likes Rabbis Matthew Leibl and Anibal Mass and is comfortable with the service.


Winnipeg is the latest stop for Feldman in a career that has taken him from his hometown, Niagara Falls, to Kingston (where he attended Queen’s University), Toronto, Melbourne Australia, Nashville, Iowa City, London, Ontario, (where he was associated with the University of Western Ontario for 25 years) and, most recently, Memorial Uni-versity in St. John’s, New-foundland,  where he was Professor of Medicine and Chair, Discipline of Medicine.
So what brought him to Winnipeg?
“There was an opportunity here,” he responds. “I knew people at the Research Centre of St. Boniface. (He is based at the I.H. Asper Institute at the St. Boniface Hospital and has a laboratory at the Albrechtson Research Centre) With the restructuring in medical care going on here, I felt that there was an opportunity for me to contribute to healthcare in friendly Manitoba in terms of innovative new approaches to the treatment and prevention of heart disease.” He adds that while he enjoyed being in St. John’s, he found it rather insular.


Feldman observes that the Order of Canada honour is in recognition of his contributions over the past 40 years to prevention and treatment of heart disease - both  in the development of knowledge translation programs to improve blood pressure control, and in relation to his research program focusing on prevention of heart disease in women.
He notes that he chose to tackle the issue of women’s heart health because he perceived that there were gaps in research and treatment in that area – specifically where post-menopausal women are concerned. “The risk factors for heart disease for women increase substantially after menopause,” he says. “One of my fields of study is how hormones outside the cell affect cell function.”
He cites one specific receptor – GPER (G protein-coupled estrogen receptor) - which, he reports, has been singled out for its effect on cell function. “WE found that GPER is really important in regulating cholesterol and blood pressure levels,” he explains. “Being able to determine the role that GPER has in high cholesterol and high blood pressure has allowed us to focus on more effective ways to prevent and treat hypertension.”

There are simple everyday things that one can do to prevent hypertension, he notes: actions to increase exercise, such as minimizing the use of escalators and elevators, parking farther away from the grocery store entrance, and trying to walk for at least half an hour a day. In terms of diet, he recommends eating more fruits and vegetables and restricting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day, also trying to reduce sodium intake by avoiding processed foods.
These measures, he says, are just as important as medication in reducing blood pressure. The really good news, he reports, is that Canada is a world leader in the prevention and control of hypertension, in part related to the effectiveness of the knowledge translation program that he developed and which has guided health care providers in treating high blood pressure.

Feldman isn’t sure yet of the date for his investiture in Ottawa but, he says that, in the meantime, he will wear his new Order of Canada pin proudly.

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