Scare inspires man to change habits
ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Stephen Boykach checks firefighter Kyle Walker's blood pressure during a World Hypertension Day event in Orillia Wednesday.
Not everyone gets a warning sign quite like Don Mayhew received.
The area resident considers himself lucky he recovered from a mild heart attack nearly two decades ago, brought on, in part, by hypertension.
That scare changed Mayhew's life and made him pay closer attention to his health and possible warning signs.
"I've now been taking high-blood-pressure medication for years," said Mayhew, who continues to regularly monitor his levels through blood-pressure checks, including Wednesday morning at Orillia's Pharmasave location that participated in World Hypertension Day, which has been marked on May 17 since 2005.
"Nine in 10 Canadians will develop high-blood pressure over the course of their lifetimes," said Stephen Boykach, who works for Thermor, a company that manufactures monitoring equipment such as the device he used to check people's blood pressure Wednesday.
"It's a silent killer. If someone has a pre-hypertension reading, an increase in activity and even minor (lifestyle) changes can help."
Blood pressure is the force of blood against blood vessels as it circulates. This force is necessary to make the blood flow, delivering nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, according to Hypertension Canada. High-blood pressure means there's too much pressure in the blood vessels.
Boykach said anyone can develop high-blood pressure, but it becomes more common as one ages and failing to control it puts one at an increased risk of a range of problems such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.
Hypertension was the word of the day at other locales across Simcoe County as health professionals tried to raise awareness of the issue with local celebrities and professional groups dropping by to show their support and get their blood-pressure checked.
"The best time to do your reading is when you first get up in the morning," said Joanne Sweetland of Orillia's Pharmasave, who noted regular monitoring remains essential to ensure hypertension doesn't get out of hand.
"That's why it's best to have your own monitor. Anyone who's been diagnosed with hypertension will be told by their doctor to get a monitor."
But while hypertension can be hereditary for some and controlled by medication, it's possible to lower the risk by avoiding contributing factors such as smoking and poor diet.
According to Hypertension Canada, those hoping to lower their blood pressure should: be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes nearly every day, not smoke, eat a healthy diet based on vegetables, fruit, low-fat milk products, whole grains and lean proteins like legumes and nuts, lower salt intake, limit alcohol to one to two standard drinks per day or less and maintain a healthy weight.