Row 4 Heart

With February being heart month, the Row 4 Heart initiative aims to raise funds and awareness towards the leading killer of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. 


One in three people living in Newfoundland and Labrador will be impacted by cardiac illness. 

Think about that for a second. Look around your office, the line in the shopping mall, your poker game. It is a dire and inevitable reality, and one far too many of us take for granted. 

These are sobering thoughts, ones that demand some form of immediate action. Luckily, the fine folks at the Health Care Foundation are in the business of raising awareness, and funds, in the prevention of treatment of cardiovascular health. 

Making a Difference

Enter the 2019 Row 4 Heart, a team based indoor rowing challenge and fundraiser designed to raise money for cardiac care here in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Teams of 10 commit to 60 minutes on a rowing machine, with teams required to raise a fundraising goal of $1,000 a team or $100 a person.  Proceeds will go towards the procurement of a next-generation echocardiogram machine, a crucial and essential tool for the diagnosis management and follow up for patients suspected or known to suffer from heart disease.

“We put a lens on heart health, but there are many different competing needs across Eastern Health. Row 4 Heart is one thing we’ve developed for cardiac equipment and things to make treating a heart attack better,” shared Dr. Sean Connors, Clinical Chief of the Cardiac Care Program at Eastern Health. 

“You’ve got to stay on the knife’s edge. Technology constantly changes. You have a heart attack and people expect the best treatment and super quick. It’s expensive, so we’re constantly trying to update what we have and get the best and this is one thing that we’ve been able to grow to do that. Everything that we raise goes straight to heart health.”

While much is made for advocacy for a variety of health concerns across the province and nation, Dr. Connors is among a group that believes that cardiac health is something ignored or shunned away by a large percentage of the public.  

‘We need to do Better’

“I use this phrase that we’re too busy cutting wood to sharpen our own ax,” Dr. Connors shares. “We’ve constantly got our head down working away and fixing people in the emergency room and we don’t put our head up to advocate and to say we need to do better. We need to talk to people and improve their lifestyle or maybe just change what we do so we can improve access so wait times are a little bit less and so on.

“Newfoundlanders, we’re constantly being told that we’re too fat and we have diabetes and we smoke and don’t exercise and no one ever listens. If someone has a heart attack and open heart surgery they listen, but after they get back to work and they stop listening. My rule of thumb is get out there and do something,” Dr. Connors says. 

With February being heart month, Dr. Connors and co. are committed to spreading awareness on the leading killer of Newfoundlanders and Labradors.

“We have a cancer centre, for kids we have the Janeway, but the number one killer for all Newfoundlanders is cardiac and I feel that maybe we could do more in terms of advocacy for it,” he says, impassioned. 

“I think that we’re a bit late to the party when it comes to that. For me, I’ve been on this mission for almost 20 years now, to raise awareness, to make sure we convince the public that if you have an issue you’re going to get as good a treatment here as you would anywhere else in Canada. We’ve been lucky that we’re able to recruit great cardiac surgeons to come back, because we have the right equipment for them to use.”

Registration is now open for the annual Row 4 Heart, which takes place at Orange Theory Fitness in St. John’s from 12-5 pm on February 16th. The event will be broadcasted on OZFM and NTV. Visit for more

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