Guarding against the ‘silent killer’

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

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

‘I love my animals very dearly,’ says man at centre of Saanich park allegations

Man accused of assault after being approached for allegedly mistreating his dog

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Victoria seeks court order to enforce sheltering rules in Beacon Hill Park

People being asked to move out of environmentally sensitive areas of park

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

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

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read