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Heart & Stroke in focus during February

There are people all around us in this community who have had a brush with affairs of the heart. No, not the amorous heart-pounding kind, but the heart-racing, scary kind.

Roger Temple, back in 1999,  came close to having a fatal stroke while camping in a remote area of Ontario; while Mary Wolfe (Holland), felt a sharp pain in her chest while playing her harp with her group, the Grace Notes. These are just two local people who were lucky enough to survive a potential major heart attack or stroke.

What these scares did for both Temple and Wolfe was to make them change what they were doing and take control of their lives. Temple turned to exercise and Wolfe de-stressed.

February is Heart & Stroke awareness month and volunteers will be out in neighbourhoods in Sooke canvassing for donations.

Beth Pattullo is an ardent canvasser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and has been ringing doorbells since 1977. She said she does it “because I was asked.”

A simple statement that says a lot about the woman and her commitment to this cause. She started canvassing along the leafy streets in Oak Bay and one thing led to another and she ended up in Sooke still carrying on canvassing each February. That’s 36 years of knocking on doors.

Canvassing means a lot to Pattullo and she said, “helping others is the most important thing.

“In our present day society people don’t have the opportunity (to volunteer), it’s not easy these days.”

Money raised through the February campaign goes to awareness, research, teaching and equipment.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death of women in Canada, and women need to know that recognizing symptoms, making lifestyle changes and seeking prompt medical attention can save their lives and the lives of others.

Risks can be reduced by as much as 80 per cent by making these changes:

• Quit smoking - smoking is an addiction and quitting may be difficult, but with help and a plan, it may become easier. Within one year of quitting, your risk of suffering a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half.

• Exercise and eat right - diet and exercise are important for a healthy heart. Thirty minutes of daily exercise and seven to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day will put you on the right track.

• Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels - high blood pressure and cholesterol levels are major risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Reduce your sodium, saturated and trans fat intake and talk with your doctor about testing your levels.

Some people may require medication.

Warning signs of heart attack:

Chest pain or discomfort

Pain in the arm, neck, jaw, shoulder or back,

Pain that many feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure.

In women, pain may be more vague.

Nausea

Sweating

Difficulty breathing

Fear, anxiety or denial

Five sudden warning signs of a stroke:

Weakness or numbness

Trouble speaking

Vision problems

Severe headache

Dizziness

If you experience one or more of these warning signs, call 9-1-1- or the emergency response number in your area immediately. Do not delay.

For more information go to: www.heartand stroke.ca

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