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Student raising awareness of ‘silent killer’

After watching his grandparents struggle with ‘the silent killer,’ a local student decided to “make a move” and offers seminars about hypertension, a health condition that primarily affects older people and especially those in the Black community.

“I have both Indian and Jamaican grandfathers who both suffer from high blood pressure, also known as ‘the silent killer,’” says Noah Bryan, a Grade 10 student at Bayview Secondary School and founder of The Make a Move Foundation.

“I have witnessed my grandfather in severe heart failure, needing oxygen just to breathe, and later learned that this was linked to uncontrolled blood pressure,” he says. “Your current health is the result of a combination of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors and I have learned that their family history and lifestyle were huge contributors to their current health.”

Bryan created his foundation after learning that hypertension and diabetes are the leading causes of mortality globally and their incidences vary greatly based on race, education and socioeconomic status. His mission: Empowering underserved communities to be proactive in managing medical conditions to prevent immediate and generational adverse health consequences.

High blood pressure – also called hypertension – is the No. 1 risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease but many people with the condition feel fine and aren’t even aware their blood pressure falls into the high-risk category, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada warns. Because the risk of hypertension increases with age, it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. It offers these steps to lower your risk: know your numbers and check your blood pressure regularly. Reduce the amount of salt you eat. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, whole grains and protein foods, while limiting highly processed foods and avoiding sugary drinks. Be physically active for at least 150 minutes a week. Be smoke-free.

Bryan worked with doctors to create Hypertension 101 – a seminar that explains in layman’s terms why it happens, how to control risk factors and how to monitor the condition in an environment that’s “perhaps less intimidating” than a doctor’s office.

Bryan has also partnered with Bios Medical, a Newmarket company that makes medical equipment, to make blood pressure cuffs and logbooks available to seminar participants.

“We know that home blood pressure monitoring is highly encouraged by doctors and can pick up hypertension before it is able to progress to the ugly consequences,” he says.

Finally, he is committed to spreading the word about hypertension to as many people as possible through seminars and a social media campaign launched on Instagram: @themakeamovefd. Anyone interested in scheduling a seminar can contact Noah through Instagram.

“In this way, little by little, I hope to expand these sessions to the Greater Toronto Area and beyond to continue to raise awareness, educate and put blood pressure cuffs in the hands of people who will benefit the most.”

Photo: Noah Bryan offers seminars about hypertension, a health condition that primarily affects older people and especially those in the Black community.

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