PROFILE — Noah’s grandparents had high blood pressure. This is how he helped
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Richmond Hill, Ontario
Claim to fame:
Noah knew that his family’s eating habits needed to change after seeing his grandparents struggle with hypertension.
It’s a condition often known as the “silent killer” because having hypertension — or high blood pressure — is something that you might not notice until it’s too late.
Noah runs regular seminars at health centres in his community as a way of educating people about an issue that affects older people, especially those in the Black community.
He says that his seminar, called Hypertension 101, is bridging the gap between the younger generation and the older generation.
“Sometimes they may not be able to understand or trust the language their doctors use. But they listen to me,” he said in an interview with CBC Kids News.
Noah said he cares about this issue because he believes that having the right information is the best thing people can do to prevent hypertension from affecting their lives.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is the condition of having high blood pressure over a long time.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, “high blood pressure occurs when your heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood through the blood vessels.”
It’s usually measured by using an inflatable cuff around someone’s arm. You may have seen one of these machines in a pharmacy.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada:
- Hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke and other health issues.
- Hypertension can be caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, stress and smoking.
- People of African, South Asian or Indigenous descent are more likely to have high blood pressure, although more research needs to be done to know why.
1 in 4 Canadian adults are affected by hypertension, according to Health Canada, including Noah’s grandparents.
That’s why Noah said he felt the need to understand the causes of hypertension and address the problem.
Noah’s interest in science
Noah’s interest in science began at Lake Wilcox, near his home in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
The lake has a history of being contaminated and unsafe for swimming.
As a personal research project last year, he wanted to understand the science behind the contamination.
That’s when he met his mentor, Lawrence Goodridge, a food safety professor at the University of Guelph, through the Canadian Black Scientists Network.
Noah spent time in the research lab understanding how humans relate to the environment and the food that we consume.
“He has a very inquisitive mind. He’s always questioning things and the reasons why something is the way that it is,” Goodridge said.
That’s why Noah questioned the health complications that have affected members of his own family.
Why is hypertension something to be concerned about? What can we do to prevent it?
The impact of Noah’s seminar
Noah gave free blood pressure monitors and logbooks to more than 40 people who went to his first seminar on Feb. 2 at the Oak Valley Health clinic in Markham, Ontario.
The donations were possible thanks to a partnership with Bios Medical, a local company that makes health-care equipment.
“Some people don’t know how to take their blood pressure. So we give them a blood pressure monitor and teach them how to use it at home,” he said.
Noah also teaches people who attend his seminar how to read nutrition labels and how to change their diet.
“Salt is the biggest contributor to high blood pressure. So I teach people how to cut down on their salt intake,” he said.
Reflecting on the few seminars he’s done so far, Noah said, “It’s about encouraging people to make better lifestyle choices.”
Noah said he is looking forward to running more seminars in the future because Hypertension 101 has gained interest from other places, like local senior centres and church groups.
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With files from CBC Radio Kitchener-Waterloo
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Submitted by Noah Bryan, graphic design by Philip Street/CBC