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Canadian Journal of Cardiology

Caregiver Burden and Cardiovascular Disease: Can We Afford to Keep the Health of Caregivers in Canada Invisible?

Published:September 09, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2019.06.025
      Nearly one-half (46%) of Canadians have been in caregiving roles to family members or friends; 50% of these caregivers are between the ages of 45 to 65 years, and the majority (54%) are women.
      • Sinha M.
      Portrait of caregivers 2012. Statistics Canada; September 10, 2013.
      A caregiver is broadly defined as someone who provides informal or unpaid work to a family member or friend with a chronic condition or disability.
      • Swartz K.
      • Collins L.
      Caregiver care.
      Caregiving roles typically include transportation, housework, house maintenance and outdoor work, scheduling and coordinating appointments, managing finances, helping with medical treatments, and providing personal care.
      • Sinha M.
      Portrait of caregivers 2012. Statistics Canada; September 10, 2013.
      Caregiving has enormous benefits to the care recipient and the health care system. Despite these benefits, caregiving has detrimental effects on one’s ability to exercise, consume a healthy diet, and maintain alcohol consumption within recommended limits.
      • Ysseldyk R.
      • Kuran N.
      • Powell S.
      • Villeneuve P.
      Self-reported health impacts of caregiving by age and income among participants of the Canadian 2012 General Social Survey.
      Detrimental effects of the caregiving experience are greater among middle-aged caregivers, those known as the “sandwich generation,” because they balance paid work commitments and interpersonal relationships with care delivery tasks for parents, children, and/or partners.
      • Ysseldyk R.
      • Kuran N.
      • Powell S.
      • Villeneuve P.
      Self-reported health impacts of caregiving by age and income among participants of the Canadian 2012 General Social Survey.
      Caregiving can also lead to financial hardship for younger caregivers, with an average loss of $1.2 million in earnings (present and future) and $30,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
      • Ysseldyk R.
      • Kuran N.
      • Powell S.
      • Villeneuve P.
      Self-reported health impacts of caregiving by age and income among participants of the Canadian 2012 General Social Survey.
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      Linked Article

      • Reducing Caregiver Distress and Cardiovascular Risk: A Focus on Caregiver-Patient Relationship Quality
        Canadian Journal of CardiologyVol. 35Issue 10
        • Preview
          Spouses report elevated levels of distress upon assuming a caregiver role; this role and related distress might, ironically, increase the cardiovascular risk of spousal caregivers of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Physiological, behavioural, and emotional factors experienced by caregivers can contribute to enhanced CVD risk. Despite an appreciation of these established associations few approaches have shown effectiveness in reducing a caregiver’s stress. It is known that CVD can produce additional strain on a caregiver-patient relationship, in turn accentuating caregiver distress.
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