A high school in New Brunswick hopes medical report cards will help prevent heart disease and other life-threatening health problems among its students.
The report cards — which list blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart rate, blood sugar levels and body mass index (BMI) —are the brainchild of Don Walker, a guidance counsellor at the high school in St. Stephen who has seen a steady decline in the health of phys-ed students since the early 1980s .
The results in the second year of the program at St. Stephen High School confirmed Walker's worries.
"What we're seeing is that just under 10 per cent of the students last year had four or more risk factors for coronary heart disease, so that might be high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, high BMIs," said nurse practitioner Yvonne Bartlett.
Last year, about 75 per cent of the students had at least one risk factor for heart disease.
For Connor Williams, the results pointed to high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels and a high BMI for his age.
"It's a good idea," Williams said of the report card. "Let's you know how you’re doing before you get out of high school so you know you're on the right track."
Catching those health problems early is just the first step, said Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial, a cardiologist with NB Heart Centre who is part of the project. Tenth graders with risk factors will be offered follow-up.
"Dieticians [are] coming in and counselling kids [and holding] exercise classes," Lutchmedial said. "We're trying to offer them avenues" to improve their situation.
The school hopes that by encouraging students to change their diet and physical activity levels, the $7,000 project could help prevent dangerous and much more expensive health problems in future.