Spotlight on: Dr. Karin Humphries

Scientific Director of BC Centre for Improved Cardiovascular HealthKarin-Humphries-photo

July 28, 2014

Key Interests:
Epidemiology / Biostatistics
Health services
Sex and gender differences in coronary heart disease


1. What inspires and motivates you to continue your research?

Dr. Humphries is motivated to change and improve the health care system by translating evidence into better practice to improve patient outcomes.  She was inspired to pursue a career in cardiovascular epidemiology after attending a talk on the socio-economic status and its impact on health by Canadian epidemiologist, Fraser Mustard.


2. Tell us about one potential strategy that you envision would improve cardiovascular care in BC.

 One potential strategy is to focus on improving the transition from acute care to home, also known as continuity of care.  Dr. Humphries explains that the average length of stay in hospital for heart attack patients is 3 days — this is not enough time to absorb the information provided by health practitioners, especially after such a life-altering event.

Critical questions about recovery after a heart attack — such as when to go to cardiac rehab, when to start exercising, when to start driving — are all questions patients need answers to.   And they also need to understand the importance of making lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of future cardiac events.

This problem is not unique to BC, but rather a problem across Canada.  Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries have adopted effective models of continuity of care.


3. With respect to your research about cardiovascular care, are there any common myths or misconceptions?

Myth: Women presenting with a heart attack have symptoms that are completely different from men presenting with a heart attack”

The reality is that there are more similarities than differences between women and men who have heart attacks.  Chest pain is the most common symptom in both women and men, but women are more likely to present with additional symptoms, compared to men. 


Trivia Questions

 What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Boring but simple, vanilla

What is your favourite cuisine?

As a vegetarian, Italian cuisine