No high-pressure tactics here

Blood-pressure checks painless, can provide crucial info

Volunteer Matt Stooke helps Saanich resident Hugh Guthrie check his blood pressure during a recent clinic at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

It’s been called the silent killer. And it’s a major contributing factor for serious health problems such as heart disease.

Yet many people still don’t even know they have high blood pressure.

That’s why the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and Yukon has hit the road with its preventative action program.

Through the use of mobile blood-pressure clinics around the Capital Region, part of its Take the Pressure Down program, the foundation is giving people at risk of more serious health conditions a chance to nip them in the bud.

“We’ve seen some very good results,” program manager Caroline Macey said of the Greater Victoria campaign. “We’ve been able to screen people, many of whom didn’t know they had hypertension (high blood pressure). They’ve been (encouraged to see) their physician and they’ve been treated and got it under control.”

A mobile clinic at Oak Bay Recreation Centre is the latest addition to the regional rotation. Free testing is now being done at up to 10 locations per week, in Victoria, Saanich and the Saanich Peninsula as well as Oak Bay.

The plan is to alternate weeks in Oak Bay. Upcoming dates at the rec centre are Oct. 14 and 28, Nov. 25 and Dec. 9, all from 9 a.m. to noon.

Besides setting up at permanent locations around the region, volunteers specially trained to interpret test results make stops at special events and jobsites – anywhere people aged 40 to 65 might gather.

“We’re just trying to be everywhere,” Macey said.

“It’s all about screening, monitoring and education. It’s really important that everybody over 40 has their blood pressure checked regularly. The good news is if people are willing to make lifestyle changes, they can see results and help lower their own blood pressure.”

While such factors as ethnicity, gender and genetics are uncontrollable in relation to blood pressure, quitting smoking, lowering one’s alcohol intake, getting regular exercise and eating more healthy foods can help keep the numbers at an acceptable level.

For dates and locations of mobile clinics, visit www.takethepressuredown.ca/clinics or call 250-382-4035.

editor@oakbaynews.com

High blood pressure

• Is the No. 1 risk factor for stroke

• Is a major factor for heart disease

• Affects 20 per cent of Canadians

• 42 per cent of Canadians who have it, don’t know they have it

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