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Heart Month: Many Canadians with heart disease don't even know it – CTV News Northern Ontario

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It’s Heart Month, a time dedicated to eradicating heart disease and there are many of us living with it who may not even know.

According to Statistics Canada, hypertension is the lead risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Nearly one-quarter of Canadian men (24 per cent) and women (23 per cent) have hypertension and only 84 per cent are aware of it.

It’s a concerning figure for people like Ana Lees, who runs a pharmacy in Elliot Lake.

“We need to pay a lot of attention to it, hypertension or high blood pressure is also called the silent killer, it has no symptoms usually so a lot of people don’t even know they have high blood pressure,” said Lees.

She said there are some who find out when it’s too late and they’ve had either a heart attack or a stroke.

“So a lot of Canadians think it’s men who have an issue with high blood pressure or heart issues when actually we need to pay a lot of attention to women, as well,” said Lees.

“Women as we get older, certain hormone changes like pregnancy and menopause can put us at an increased risk, even higher than men.”

There is a range of causes of high blood pressure, she said, including genetic, lifestyle and nutrition.

“Like if you have a lot of salt in your diet,” Lees said. “And sometimes you can be really, really healthy and physically active and still have high blood pressure.”

One person who knows the plight of heart disease all too well is Sault Ste. Marie’s Wayne Sandvik. A financial planner by trade, Sandvik was at home one day in January 2017 when he suffered a heart attack.

He was rushed to the Sault Area Hospital and then sent to Health Sciences North for additional treatment.

“They didn’t think I’d make it but I did,” Sandvik said, smiling.

“I was driven to Health Sciences North and the doctor gave me two stents. Because of the delay I actually spent 13 days recovering at Health Sciences North, which is a little longer than anyone expected, but I’m here now.”

He credited the amazing treatment he got from both hospitals in keeping him alive and now healthy. He now helps others living with heart disease and also takes part in a regular support group.

Healthy diet, deal with stress

“Taking care of your diet, exercise, stress, those are all things that are really important,” Sandvik said.

“A doctor in Sudbury, he gave me a really good tip. I thought that most people might appreciate this time of year, is that we get a lot of snow in northern Ontario and in the wintertime and he was telling me that a lot of people have heart attacks when they’re shovelling snow.”

Lees said she gets questions about it all the time and wants people to know if they have concerns, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask.

She said there are things a pharmacist can do to help the situation.

“We can go over your medication, if you’re taking anything, we can also check your blood pressure right in the store (and) a lot of pharmacies have blood pressure machines, either outside offices or the individual ones,” Lees said.

“We can also check your blood sugars to see if your blood sugars might be a little bit high, which puts you at risk of heart disease. And then if we find any of these things … we can also send notification to your doctor, which might get you in a little quicker to see them.”

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every year roughly 35,000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada, the vast majority are either in public places or at home. 

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Mental Health Issues Demand Resolution

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Should those who hold public office show that they are of sound mind and body before taking office and during the years they serve? Are those bureaucrats who truly run our government ever tested or investigated for various mental health issues that could surely affect their performance as public employees?

Imagine what the mental state of public servants is like these days? Besides the Pandemics’ influence upon us all, these men and women are responsible for public service to their communities and nation. Man public employees are under vigorous scrutiny for their honesty and performance as employees, but what about their mental health challenges? Various municipal, State and Federal authorities make attempts to pinpoint an employee in need, someone needing assistance and direction in their professional and personal lives, but it is difficult to do. Privacy and union issues often stand in between the person in need and those who would assist them. Furthermore, many employees refuse to seek assistance, for reasons of professional survival. Say an employee has an important job where many decisions are made influencing the community at large(ie Police). That person needs assistance for some mental health issues but fears either losing their jobs or being declared problematic employees, slowing promotions or professional advancement. They clam up, interiorizing their pain, fear or distress.

Most public institutions will honestly admit they do not invest enough into mental health services for their fellow employees.

Our elected officials have much to hide away from their future or present-day electors. What if they have a skeleton in their closet? A colourful personal history, a criminal record, possible mental health or physical health issue. Issues that are allowed to be hidden from the transparency portfolio. If asked, tell the truth(as they see it), otherwise hide what can be hidden. Politicians performing their service to the community, are placed under a microscope by the electorate and media alike. This must be stressful to them and their families too. Are elected officials ever evaluated for mental health status ever, before being elected and during their service?

Do you think anyone with a criminal record or under investigation should be removed or barred from holding office or in a position of public trust? Is the trust of the electorate easily given? A public official or employee could mishandle a portfolio, or commit a crime while in public service. How often have you seen such an individual stand before the media’s camera, proclaiming their innocence or sorrow of their actions?

We have heard many public officials call for hugely needed investments in the treatment of mental health issues, yet these investments are either moving at a snail’s pace or not at all. Our military and police have been calling for assistance regarding their need for mental health programs for two decades with little happening. The government’s response is usually words, words, and more words with little accountable assistance given. Our government has enough revenue to invest in weapons for the police and military, building structures and community centers, highways and new computers, but when asked to invest in people, their employees and the electorate, it’s either too costly or they have not the funds.

The Police and Military: Have an immediate need for trained mental health professionals, therapists and therapy-recoup centers. If the government can send them into harm’s way, they are responsible to maintain their mental health.

Government Agencies: Due to privacy issues, the government should make allotments to their employees available to find and go to therapy. A healthy employee is a trusted effective one. The government should source mental health professionals for those who serve them. Furthermore, Governments and their agencies are responsible to encourage, initiate and plan for the training of these professionals. A well-paid professional will make their placement a long-term investment. If our public employees can rely upon their employer to care for them, we can rely upon our public sector.

An established long-term mental health program needs to be established. This can be all-inclusive to the entire community. For example, gun owners, and drivers of vehicles should be required to invest their time in an interview and possible retraining every five years. Should a mental health issue be recognized, it can be dealt with appropriately and calmly. Bad habits, addictions, attitudes and illnesses developed over time can be recognized and something is done about them promptly and privately.

We have forgotten that much that we receive from and within our society is a privilege, something that should be earnt, and not awarded. Our mental health changes over time, and so too our responsibility to our communities, family and society. Is the public sector becoming our parents, our caregivers? In many ways, it is, and so our overall health, and that of our minds may be calling for community maintenance.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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BC bird flu: Vancouver Island farmers on alert | CTV News – CTV News VI

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The fears of many chicken farmers on Vancouver Island have been realized. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that a case of the avian flu that’s been spreading across Canada has been found in a small flock in the Comox Valley on Wednesday.

Jeremy Vigini considers his birds pets, but they do provide limited income on his Black Creek, B.C., hobby farm, Broken Head Farms.

He’s only been at it for a few months but had heard the bird flu was headed towards the island.

“We first started hearing there was a problem last month,” he said, noting that he’d been keeping an eye on biosecurity and preventative measures.

Vigini and other poultry operations of all sizes are now under tighter restrictions after a positive case of the avian flu was confirmed on the Mid-Island.

“All we got was a post saying it’s in the Comox Valley now, and so our minds went to, ‘How do we secure our birds, our pets, all this stuff?'” he said.

Vigini’s now put up a new gate and increased fencing and netting to try to keep wild birds out.

WILDLIFE WORKERS

Staff and volunteers at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Centre (MARS) in Merville are increasing their protocols.

“[It’s] extremely contagious as far as we are aware, so at this point it can spread to any species of bird. Not necessarily all birds will show symptoms,” said Gylaine Andersen, manager of wildlife rehabilitation at MARS.

Staff are now taking a second look at the condition of their current patients.

“It’s kind of hard because a lot of these symptoms we’re seeing in animals anyway, and now we have to think, ‘OK maybe this is the flu instead of whatever else they would normally be,'” said Andersen.

The facility’s asking the general public to help out by encouraging birds to socially distance.

“For gathering of birds at bird feeders and bird baths, we are asking that people take those down,” said Andersen.

MARS is worried that if the avian flu is left unchecked, it could spread to wild birds, like eagles and geese.

As of Wednesday, seven properties across B.C. had confirmed cases of the avian flu. 

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Eating Disorder Foundation Call Recent CIHI Statistics “Alarming” – VOCM

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The Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador calls recent statistics released by CIHI “startling” and “alarming”.

The latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that hospitalizations for eating disorders among girls aged 10 to 17 increased by nearly 60 per cent since March of 2020. The rate of hospitalization for children for eating disorders is about 30 per 100,000 in this province compared with 20 per 100,000 nationally—an increase of roughly 30 per cent over pre-pandemic levels.

The Executive Director of the Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Paul Thomey, says what they’ve seen over the past two years lines up with CIHI’s findings.

He says they’ve seen unprecedented growth in the number of people presenting to the Janeway and the HOPE program. He says the waiting lists for their programs and the Janeway are startling,

He says in the youth programs, there are people waiting upwards of a year to see dieticians and psychologists.

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