Free program tackles high blood pressure

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is accepting registrants in a program designed to prevent high blood pressure, the number one risk for stroke and a leading risk for heart disease.

After a successful start to Activate for Heart & Stroke, a free six-month wellness program to help at-risk people from developing hypertension (high blood pressure), Heart and Stroke has begun enrolling 4,100 people in the Greater Toronto Area for phase two.

“Lifestyle changes are difficult to accomplish and sustain, and we’re very encouraged about the results of the first phase of Activate,” said Dr. David Jones, Canada’s first chief public health officer and chief advisor on the program. “As a stroke survivor myself, I am keenly aware that one in five Canadians is on the cusp of developing high blood pressure a major risk for stroke and heart disease. This program is showing that we can turn around this trajectory by supporting individuals to maintain a healthier lifestyle which will ultimately save lives and prevent disability from heart disease and stroke.”

Heart and Stroke is working with Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart), NexJ Health, University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the YMCA to deliver the program, which encourages people to eat better, move more and manage stress. To help participants meet their goals, incentives include a free two-month YMCA membership, PC Optimum points for healthy behaviour, a personal online health coach and online support.

Currently, 7.5 million Canadians have high blood pressure. More than 66,000 people die every year from heart disease and stroke in Canada but up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented.

To be eligible for the program, participants must be over 40 years old, pre-hypertensive and not take any blood-pressure medication. The second phase is expanding to 33 Shoppers Drug Mart locations and 10 YMCA locations across the GTA, Oakville and Oshawa. Heart and Stroke is also collaborating with employers and associations across the GTA who are interested in offering this free wellness program at their organizations. For more information, visit heartandstroke.ca/activate.

Photo: Heart and Stroke’s activate program helps prevent high blood pressure. CNW Group/Heart and Stroke Foundation photo

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