Guarding against the ‘silent killer’

Nearly half of those with high blood pressure don’t know it

Randy Smith

Randy Smith

Randy Smith is accustomed to high-pressure situations, but this one was a life-changer.

As chief financial officer and head of human resources for the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, Smith arranged for a blood pressure clinic as part of the office’s annual health awareness event last winter.

In the lobby of his office at Dockside Green in Vic West, he sat down next to Caroline Macey-Brown and watched as she wrapped the Velcro band around his bicep, each pump of air constricting his blood flow a little more.

“I could tell by the look on her face something was out of line,” he said.

A series of tests in subsequent weeks revealed Smith suffered from a genetic heart defect, pushing his blood pressure to dangerously high levels.

“I didn’t have a clue. I think I ran 10K the weekend before with my buddies,” he said.

While he’s now on regular medication and under strict doctor’s orders to avoid high-impact exercise, Smith said his experience with the Take the Pressure Down program likely saved his life.

The three-year-old program is a collaboration between Beacon Community Services and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Volunteers set up in malls, rec centres and libraries across Greater Victoria, and use mobile workplace clinics to reach target age groups.

“Our focus is on people aged 30 and above,” said manager Macey-Brown. “Hypertension is called the silent killer, because many people walk around with it and don’t know it.”

About 22 per cent of Canadian adults are affected by high blood pressure, and 40 per cent of those affected show no obvious signs.

Smith said he wanted to share his story in the hopes that more people take a proactive approach and discuss risk factors with their doctor.

“You really have to have those basic health tests done,” he said. “It only takes a few minutes.

It’s important to discuss non-modifiable risks such as genetics and family history with your doctor, and to tackle habits that can be controlled such as diet, stress, alcohol intake and smoking, Macey-Brown said.

“There are many stories like Randy’s. The first step of prevention is to educate people about high blood pressure and do screening, monitoring and heart health education.”

Macey-Brown and Smith hope more businesses take advantage of the free blood pressure clinics in the coming months.

Smith misses his old lifestyle, but said it’s comforting to know he’s now in control of his long-term health.

“It’s not quite the same as chasing a hockey puck around, but it’s better than the alternative.”

To learn more, visit takethepressuredown.ca.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Get checked out

Take the Pressure Down clinics are being held around Greater Victoria this month, including:

• Tapestry Teachers Conference, Esquimalt High, Friday, Feb. 15

• Crystal Pool, Monday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m. to noon

• Geriatric Health Conference, Victoria Conference Centre, Saturday, Feb. 23

• Cardiac Café, University of Victoria, Feb. 23

• Saanich Employee Health Fair, municipal hall, Wednesday, Feb. 27

A complete schedule is at takethepressuredown.ca.

 

Just Posted

The District of Sooke is looking to revamp its business licence bylaw. Council agreed recently that all businesses must hold a business licence to operate in the community. (Kevin Laird – Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke pushes ahead with new business licence bylaw

Proposal calls for all forms of business to require licensing, but bylaw can stil be tweaked

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

A multi-building residential development on Erskine Lane in View Royal was approved by council on June 15. (Courtesy Town of View Royal)
Dire shortage of three-bedroom apartments, says View Royal mayor

New development to feature wide range of rental units, amenities for tenants

Embracing the urban forestry rule known as 3-30-300 could improve the community’s mental health, says Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich council embraces 3-30-300 rule to improve access to green space

Coun. Zac de Vries says rule promotes health and well-being through urban forestry

BC Housing has brought in sanitation trailers to the former Mount Tolmie Hospital site so its current residents can access clean water, showers, sinks and toilets after a collapsed sewer pipe impacted water service to the building. (Google Streetview)
Mount Tolmie Hospital homelessness shelter using sanitation trailers after pipe collapse

Travelodge shelter residents faced intermittent hot water supply in late May, early June

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

Most Read