Meet Howard: Husband. Father. Runner. V-fib Survivor.

Howard Gaskin suffered a ventricular fibrillation as he crossed the finish line of the Brooklyn Half Marathon in October 2015.  He was running the race with his wife Cheryl and son Knox while his two daughters, Paige and Ashley Brook, were cheering on.

Knowing he has a family history of heart disease, Howard has been active all his life and started running regularly over 20 years ago. Howard targeted controllable risk factors through regular exercise, proper nutrition, strict management of key metabolic measures (cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose) and an annual stress test to detect early signs of coronary artery disease.  However, sometimes you just can’t fight genetics.

Fortunately, EMS paramedics were at the scene at the Brooklyn finish line to administer life-saving intervention. Following  30 hours of observation in the ICU at New York Methodist Hospital, Howard was cleared to return to Canada for further testing.

Medical staff at Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre found and fixed the problem: a 90% blockage in Howard’s left anterior descending artery. Commonly known as “the widow-maker”, he was very fortunate that the condition was detected in time.

Keen to understand what role fitness should play in his recovery and long term health, Howard was referred to Toronto Rehab where he was enroled in the Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation Program.

The amazing Cardiac Rehab staff coached Howard through an informative, challenging (but fun-filled) six month cardio fitness program that, together with ongoing care from his cardiologist, led him confidently along the road to recovery. The Cardiac Rehab program was essential in providing Howard and his family with the knowledge and assurance to safely reintroduce running as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Howard resumed distance running in 2017 and completed his first ever full marathon in 2018. He was fortunate enough to finish with a time that enabled him to qualify for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

As an expression of his profound gratitude for all that Toronto Rehab has done for him, Howard is raising funds for our Cardiac Rehab Program through his participation in the 2019 Boston Marathon (April) and Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathons (October). 

Learn more about his run in the Boston Marathon
We thank Howard for his support in helping make incredible happen for the many people relying on Toronto Rehab's Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program to give them back their life.
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