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4-week series teaches adults how to lower their risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke

CALEDONIA, AUGUST 27, 2012 – A series of educational classes aimed at preventing stroke, heart disease and diabetes is being offered by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.


“Every seven minutes a Canadian dies from heart disease or stroke,” said Joanne Alessi, a Public Health Nurse with the Health Unit. “We’re looking to equip local residents with the skills and education they need to help improve the length and quality of their life by reducing their risk of suffering from these diseases.”

The ˜Step Up to a Healthier You’ program is a month-long series, comprised of four sessions focusing on various topics and skills adults can use to prevent stroke, diabetes and heart disease. The classes will be held at Hagersville United Church, located at 34 Main St. in Hagersville beginning Wednesday, September 26 and continue every Wednesday for four weeks. Each class runs from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

A dietitian, registered nurse, pharmacist, exercise and stress management expert will be teaching various portions of the classes. A variety of interactive, hands-on lessons will be used to provide participants with practical information about topics such as healthy eating and how to read and understand food labels, and exercises and activities that can keep them physically active throughout their life. Strategies, skills and techniques to help control high blood pressure and cholesterol and manage stress will also be covered.

“It used to be that people would only worry about having a stroke or heart disease if they had a family history,” noted Alessi. “Nowadays, we know that these two diseases are linked by the same causes or risk factors, and that 80 per cent of the time these risk factors are within the power of most individuals to change.”

Participants will have the opportunity to have their blood pressure checked, as this indicator can factor into the risks of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, heart disease and stroke are the second and third leading causes of death in Canada, respectively. Heart disease held the top spot for a number of years, but it has recently been surpassed by cancer as the country’s leading cause of death.

The ˜Step Up to a Healthier You’ program is designed to not only help participants understand the risk factors that lead up to stroke, heart disease and diabetes, but also how to manage their health and take practical steps to control these diseases. The lessons taught can be applied to a variety of other chronic diseases as well, such as cancer prevention and osteoporosis.


“The healthy or unhealthy choices you make today, along with the way you handle the early signs and symptoms of these diseases, can mean a difference between enjoying your retirement golfing each day, or sitting in a wheelchair,” said Alessi.

There is a $20 registration fee for the program, but subsidies are available for those who qualify. To register for the course, or for more information, contact Dana Reynolds at extension 3265 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.

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Media contact:
Joanne Alessi, RN
Injury Prevention Coordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
905-318-5367 Ext. 330
[email protected]