News & Events
The Wawa Family Health Team frequently posts news & events, public notices, and general health related information on our website. Please check back often for the latest updates.
Smoking and High Blood Pressureposted: 2012-03-08
Smoking does not cause high blood pressure (hypertension). Smoking will raise a person's blood pressure temporarily, but once the chemicals from smoking are removed, blood pressure will decrease to its normal level. Although smoking does not directly cause high blood pressure, it is a big risk factor for heart disease.
Smoking injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), a leading cause of coronary artery disease. Moreover, the nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products causes your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster, which temporarily raises your blood pressure.
Whether tobacco is smoked, chewed, or taken in by any other means, the nicotine in the tobacco directly stimulates the production of a hormone, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), in the adrenal gland. Epinephrine raises blood pressure by constricting blood vessels; the more you smoke, the higher the nicotine level is in your blood, and the higher your blood pressure.
In summary, smoking affects blood pressure by the following means:
- Smoking can lead to the build-up of plaque that clogs the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood
- When you smoke, you inhale carbon monoxide. This decreases the amount of oxygen your heart, brain, and other vital organs receive.
- Smoking (Nicotine Produces epinephrine) constricts blood vessels.
Smoking damages the linings of blood vessels and speeds up the process of atherosclerosis
If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Once you quit, your risk of having a heart attack is reduced after the first year of non-smoking.
How can you quit smoking?
- Limit how many cigarettes you're going to smoke each day, and make it part of a schedule instead of just "lighting up" whenever you feel like it.
- When you get a craving for a cigarette, delay your smoking by giving yourself a task or activity to take your mind off the craving. Keep a list of tasks/activities handy so you’re prepared when the urge strikes. An activity can be as simple as playing a game of solitaire or cleaning a night table drawer.
- Recent studies have shown that by using the above skills together with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) such as the nicotine patch, inhaler, or lozenge, and/or medications like Zyban (Buprobprion) and Champix (Varenicline) improve quitting success.
Contact David Burgan, RN, BScN at the Wawa Family Health Team 705 856 1313 for more information on how to quit smoking.
Effects of High Blood Pressure: An Overviewposted: 2012-02-09
Over time, the effects of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can include a heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure (CHF). The body structures most vulnerable to high blood pressure include blood vessels, heart, brain, and kidneys. Fortunately, making certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the impact on these vital organs.
High blood pressure is often referred to as "the silent killer." Most people with high blood pressure don't have any symptoms, since the effects are occurring inside the body. The body structures that chronic high blood pressure affects most include:
- Blood vessels
Because of the effects on these organs, a person who has had high blood pressure for a long time (known as chronic hypertension) can have:
- A heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Chronic heart failure (CHF)
- Eye damage with loss of vision
- Peripheral arterial disease, including bulges or ballooning of the aorta (called aneurysms)
- A stroke or "mini stroke” - also known as a "TIA" (transient ischemic attack).
High Blood Pressure's Effects on Blood Vessels
The small blood vessels in the organs are commonly affected by high blood pressure over time. High blood pressure causes blood vessels to become scarred, hardened, and less elastic -- which means they are more likely to get blocked or rupture. This may happen naturally as you get older (whether or not your blood pressure is too high), but high blood pressure can speed up this process. Another one of high blood pressure's effects on your blood vessels is that it may play a role in the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the process of the artery walls becoming thicker (also known as narrowing or "hardening") due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol. High blood pressure adds strain to the blood vessel walls, putting them at higher risk for developing atherosclerosis than they would be otherwise.
Effects on the Heart
If the inside of your blood vessels get smaller and harder - and the pressure inside them increases - your heart has to pump harder to get blood through them. Your heart is a muscle, and just like other muscles, working this hard makes your heart get bigger.
This is not a good thing for the heart. The heart can become stretched and then weakened. The heart can no longer squeeze all the blood out of its chambers and the person has what's known as congestive heart failure. This is a serious condition. Fluid backs up into the lungs and chest cavity - leading to shortness of breath.
Effects on the Brain
Blood vessels in the brain can rupture or get blocked, just like blood vessels elsewhere in the body. The difference is that if a blood vessel ruptures in the brain, the bleeding can cause serious problems, or even death. This bleeding is called a hemorrhagic stroke. If a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked by narrowing, the brain tissues will be deprived of the nutrients and oxygen they usually get from the blood; this can cause significant damage and is known as an ischemic stroke. Another effect of high blood pressure is a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It is often labeled “mini-stroke,” though it should be more accurately dubbed “warning stroke,” a warning you should take very seriously. TIA is caused by a clot; the only difference between a stroke and TIA is that with TIA the blockage is transient (temporary). TIA symptoms occur rapidly and last a relatively short time. Most TIAs last less than five minutes; the average is about a minute. Unlike a stroke, when a TIA is over, there’s no permanent injury to the brain. High blood pressure is a major cause of both strokes and bleeding in the brain. It can also affect normal brain function as a person ages.
Effects on the Kidneys
The kidneys are also easily damaged, if the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys are damaged, the kidneys' tissues will not get the blood they need and the kidneys themselves can gradually lose their ability to function.
Effects on the Eyes
High blood pressure can also cause changes in the retinas of your eyes. The retina is where the eye receives visual images. High blood pressure causes the blood vessels in the eyes to get narrow, rupture and bleed
These effects result in impaired vision and may lead to blindness.
Effects of High Blood Pressure: Summary
As you can see, blood vessels, the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes are the structures in your body most affected by high blood pressure. That's why a person who has had high blood pressure for many years is at a serious risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure, even if he or she hasn't had any symptoms along the way. In fact, when compared to people without high blood pressure, people with untreated high blood pressure are:
- Three times more likely to have heart disease
- Six times more likely to develop chronic heart failure
- Seven times more likely to have a stroke.
Fortunately, blood pressure can be controlled, have your blood pressure checked and see your health care provider if there is a problem.
D Burgan, RN BScN
Hypertension Guidelines - What do the numbers mean?posted: 2011-12-03
What the Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers:
120 = The force of blood when the heart beats (systolic)
80 = The force of blood when the heart relaxes (diastolic)
(Your Health Care Provider (HCP) will say “120 over 80.”)
Both numbers are important. But, as you get older, the top number becomes more important. Treatment usually focuses on lowering the top number.
Getting both numbers down and under control will greatly reduce your risk for problems from high blood pressure. Some of these are:
- Heart attacks
- Kidney disease
Know what each number means. Work with your HCP to reach your target goal.
The following blood pressure chart can help you figure out if your blood pressure is at a healthy level or if you'll need to take some steps to improve your numbers.
Blood pressure readings fall into four general categories, ranging from normal to stage 2 hypertension (high blood pressure). The level of your blood pressure determines what kind of treatment you may need. To get an accurate blood pressure measurement, your Health Care Provider (HCP) should evaluate your readings based on the average of two or more blood pressure readings on each of two office visits.
Here's a look at the four blood pressure categories and what they mean for you. If your readings fall into two different categories, your correct blood pressure category is the higher category. For example, if your blood pressure reading is 125/95 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), you have stage 1 hypertension.
|Top number (systolic) in mm Hg||Bottom number (diastolic) in mm Hg||Your category*||What to do**|
|Below 120||and||Below 80||Normal blood pressure||Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.|
|120-139||or||80-89||Pre-hypertension||Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.|
|140-159||or||90-99||Stage 1 hypertension||Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. If blood pressure goal isn't reached in about six months, talk to your doctor about taking one or more medications.|
|160 or more||or||100 or more||Stage 2 hypertension||Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about taking more than one medication.|
**Note: These recommendations address high blood pressure as a single health condition. If you also have heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or certain other conditions, you'll need to treat your blood pressure more aggressively.
If your blood pressure is normal, maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent or delay the onset of high blood pressure or other health problems. If your blood pressure isn't normal, a healthy lifestyle — oftentimes along with medication — can help bring it under control and reduce your risk of life-threatening complications.
Home Blood Pressure Monitorsposted: 2011-11-01
High blood pressure is a major problem today and the biggest difficulty with this serious and often life-threatening condition is that it rarely displays any symptoms at all. For this reason, it is vital that we all have our blood pressure checked from time to time and there is no easier way to do that nowadays than by using your own home blood pressure monitor.
Modern automatic monitors are simple to use and most have large digital readouts which are also very easy to read. Many also have memory facilities which allow you to keep a record or your blood pressure readings over time and sometimes to print these out or to load them into your computer where they can be plotted into a clear graph. It is important to remember to take it to your HCP’s office or Community Blood Pressure Clinic once or twice a year to make sure it continues to give accurate readings. This is called the validation process.
Home blood pressure monitoring
Home monitoring can assist your health care provider (HCP) in diagnosing your blood pressure correctly. Some people have higher blood pressure when they visit the HCP’s office or community clinic. However, as they go about their usual daily activities they have normal blood pressure. This condition is called ‘white coat’ hypertension (referring to the white coat worn by HCP). On the other hand, some people have normal blood pressure when measured in the HCP’s office or community clinic, but have high blood pressure in other situations. This is called ‘masked’ hypertension. Your HCP may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home if needed.
What should your blood pressure be?
Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140/90 mm Hg when measured in the HCP’s office or 135/85 mmHg when measured at home is considered high.
If you have diabetes, 130/80 mm Hg is high.
Average blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
If you have high blood pressure, you can make lifestyle changes and take medication to control it. Talk to your HCP.
Buying a home blood pressure monitor
Before you buy a home monitor, you'll need to know your correct cuff size. To find your cuff size:
- You or your HCP or pharmacist must measure the circumference (midpoint between shoulder and elbow) of your bare upper arm.
- Match the measurement with measurements provided on the monitor’s package or instruction manual. There are 3 cuff sizes available; small, medium, and large.
Your HCP or pharmacist can help you choose a monitor. The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada and Hypertension Canada (www.hypertension.ca) suggest that the unit be automatic (instead of manual) and have been tested to meet the validation requirements of either the British Hypertension Society (BHS) or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).
How to measure your blood pressure at home
Once you have purchased a home monitor, take it to your HCP’s office or Community Blood Pressure Clinic once or twice a year to make sure it continues to give accurate readings.
Accurate readings also depend on how you prepare to take your blood pressure. Follow these steps to get the most accurate reading:
- Do not smoke or drink caffeine (coffee, tea, cola and some sports drinks) for 60 minutes beforehand.
- Do not measure your blood pressure when you are upset or in pain.
- Empty your bladder or bowel before starting, if necessary.
- Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor and back resting against the back of a chair or a firm surface for at least 5 minutes before measuring and during measurement.
- Use the same arm each time. Remove bulky or tight clothing from your arm completely.
- Wrap the blood pressure cuff snugly around your bare upper arm (2 fingers should fit between the blood pressure cuff and your arm). The edge of the cuff must be ½ an inch to an inch (or 1 or 2 cm) above your elbow.
- Place your arm on a table or a firm surface. The cuff must be at the level of your heart.
- Do not talk during the test.
- Take two readings - morning and evening for 7 days
- Bring a record of your readings to your next appointment with your HCP or Community Blood Pressure Clinic.
D Burgan BScN, RN
Wawa Family Health Team
Meet David Burgan, RNposted: 2011-08-23
New to the Wawa Family Health Team is David Burgan, RN.
After a rewarding career in Toronto’s fine dining circuit, David received a call for more humanitarian endeavours, so be returned to native city of Sault Ste. Marie to undertake a BScN through Laurentian University. Upon graduation, David worked in Long Term Care at VanDaele Manor and The Ontario Finnish Resthome Association.
In constant pursuit of challenging opportunities, David is very keen to serve the residents of Wawa and surrounding area in a Primary Care capacity at the Wawa Family Health Team.
In his spare time, David is an avid “foodie”, enjoys listening to CBC Radio, and singing (whether it is in the shower, at home or even at work).
David looks forward to getting to know his new neighbours and exploring all the beauty that the area has to offer.
Appointment Schedulingposted: 2011-03-14
There are times when a patient tries to schedule an appointment with their family doctor only to be told that they cannot book one, as the physician has not yet opened up any appointments.
Because of our physician shortage, the “on call” schedule for the Emergency Department must first get sorted out. With only three physicians working “on-call”, this can be somewhat of a challenge. Once the Emergency on-call schedule is set, the doctors then know what days they have available to hold their patient clinics. Often this results in only a two week to one month clinic block. In the meantime, you may have to call more than once to try and schedule your appointment as there are no wait lists.
When one of the physicians is away, they often have a locum physician covering their practice. Patients are encouraged to schedule appointments with that locum if they so choose.
We appreciate your patience and understanding. We are all hoping that a physician or two can soon be recruited to our community.
If you have further questions regarding appointment scheduling and family physicians, please contact Silvana Dereski at 705-856-1313.
Why some people get a Family Physician.posted: 2011-02-24
I am sure many of you currently without a family physician are wondering..."how do I get a family doctor?" Due to our current physician shortage, many people within our community and catchment area are left without a family physician, and the physicians that are here are not taking any new patients at present.
Being without a physician does not mean being without care as many of you see our Nurse Practitioners or RN for your immediate health care needs. If you are someone that is currently being looked after by an NP or RN, and your illness or disease requires more in-depth care than they are able to provide for you, your health care provider will ask one of our physicians if they are willing and able to take you on as a patient. A list is kept for the physicians, so that the patient load is evenly distributed and not all patients are assigned to any one particular doctor. If an Allied Health Professional feels you require doctor care, they ask the next physician on the list to take on your case; thus, some people get a family physician, and others that may have been without a doctor for longer may not.
If you have further questions regarding family physicians, please contact Silvana Dereski at 705-856-1313.
Northern Ontario Travel Grants – Some Eligibility Criteria Explainedposted: 2010-11-25
There continues to be some confusion concerning eligibility with the Northern Travel Grants.
The Northern Health Travel Grant is a benefit residents of Northern Ontario receive from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and as a result, this benefit comes with very specific rules.
If you have requested a referral to a specialist who is not the closest specialist of that type, the Ministry of Health’s travel grant policy only pays for travel costs as far as the closest available appropriate specialist. As a result, you will only receive a travel grant for mileage or bus fare as far as the closest specialist.
A Companion Travel Grant may be paid if the patient is under 16 years of age on date of service, or if the referring health care provider deems it is medically necessary that the patient is unable to travel without a companion.
Neither your doctor or nurse practitioner, nor the secretaries, can change this policy.
If you have additional questions concerning eligibility, make sure you read the cover sheet of the Northern Health Travel Grant, or you can call the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at 1-800-461-4006.
Health Cards – has yours expired?posted: 2010-11-24
A reminder to everyone to make sure they have a valid and current Health Card. If your card has expired, it is necessary that you get it reinstated as soon as possible.
Renewing your Health Card can now be done at the Wawa Service Ontario office, located at the Ministry of Natural Resources on Mission Road from 8:30am to 5pm daily, Monday to Friday. The office is open at lunchtime.
If you currently have the green health card, you are required to bring something with your current address on it (this could include your current driver’s license, a phone bill, tax assessment, etc.), and a piece of ID with your signature on it. If you have the old red and white health card, you are also required to bring in proof of citizenship. There is no charge for this service or this insurance!
If you do not renew your coverage, you:
• will NOT qualify for the Northern Ontario Travel Grant
• will have to pay ‘up-front’ for costly out of town testing such as MRIs , lab and diagnostic imaging testing as well as medical procedures, consultations and professional services
• will be billed for all routine clinic appointments
• may be refused a consultation appointment by a specialist
Once you have your new number and version code, please inform the Wawa Family Health Team office (705-856-1313) as soon as possible so your coverage can be seamlessly reinstated.
Meet the Wawa Family Health Team….Kadean Ogilvieposted: 2010-07-15
Kadean Ogilvie, RN Program Manager
The Registered Nurse Program Manger is a position that is unique to the Wawa Family Health Team. This position allows the Family Health Team to have constant focus on program development and evaluation of their effectiveness. The whole team is involved in the planning and implementation of new programs or updating older ones.
Kadean joined our team in January 2009; some of her typical daily activities include reviewing research about best practices in health areas such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and then translating the information into what would be the best in providing patient care in specialty programs. Other programs that are currently running are Hypertension Management, Diabetes, Smoking Cessation, and our newest program, Warfarin Therapy Management.
"What I like most about my job is that collaborating with the larger team is a must - everyone offers a different level of expertise which drives sound program development."
In addition to program development, Kadean is also involved in some community events. You may see her providing awareness on various health topics, doing presentations about blood pressure to cervical cancer screening or even at Safe Kids Day!
"I believe that as we do our day to day work activities none of it should be in isolation of other community partners who might have a similar interest - partnerships are very important."
Once programs or initiatives are in place, monitoring the outcomes is crucial in ensuring that the goals are being met. Having tangible results assists in quality improvement which is a top priority in the organizational culture.
"Continuous quality improvement has always been a part of care delivery at the Wawa Family Health Team and the way in which our programs are developed and implemented continues to add to this legacy.,"
Meet the Wawa Family Health Team...Brenda Melbourneposted: 2010-06-30
Brenda Melbourne, Social Worker
Brenda Melbourne is a member of the Wawa Family Health Team and has been providing services to patients over the last 18 months through our Social Work/Mental Health Program. Her education and 25 years of vast mental health experience gives her many tools and resources to service you.
On any given day, Brenda provides many services to our clients; from helping people deal with grief and loss to depression, anxiety and assistance finding their way through the complex health and social services systems.
"It is exciting to be part of a team that recognizes the importance of holistic and comprehensive medical care. At the Family Health Team I can support individuals in developing their emotional and mental health in a timely and collaborative way"
Brenda has been a part of many specialty programs offered in the community in collaboration with local partners. Anger Solutions groups, Strengthening Families and Stress Management workshops are just some of the places you may see Brenda – she is also involved with our primary care programs like Diabetes, Solutions for New Year’s Resolutions and smoking cessation programs. Brenda also has special training in Cognitive Behavourial Therapy and offers clients a solution-focused, mindful experience.
Registered Social Workers are professionals trained to help individuals, families, groups and communities enhance their individual and collective well-being. They aim to help people develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems.
To book an appointment with Brenda, see your family physician or primary care provider (NP or RN) at the Family Health Team.