Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: Stroke awareness and heart disease

Learn the signs of stroke: Act FAST

Do you know the signs of stroke?

Sometimes we spend so much time doing what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it. This, of course, also happens in men’s health blogging. Why am I blogging?

After rereading Where Are The Men? (the men’s health report), it is once again obvious why I need to do what I am currently doing. We have to somehow give men the ability to live healthier, longer lives by providing information that is current and well-researched.

One thing is clear: men are dying younger than women and we need to address that gap. To do this, we need to address the causes of earlier male mortality and look at the lifestyle factors that contribute to that. Lifestyle factors are things that we men can change. Making small changes to your lifestyle will have a big effect on your health! So what can we men do to live longer, healthier lives?

It’s Stroke Month so I’ll start there!

Heart disease and stroke prevention

The Heart & Stroke Foundation has information on the risk factors that you can do something about to prevent heart disease. For the Mayo Clinic, they present this as five steps to follow to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Quit smoking.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • Eat a diet that’s healthy.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular checkups.

If you are overweight, smoke and have a poor diet, the road ahead can seem overwhelming. It is, however, very achievable. How, you ask?

Start with one step. Then add another.

At first, the best step might simply be to go to the doctor and have your blood pressure checkup. Then you have a starting point that can be a valuable place from which to decide your next move in consultation with the doctor.

In addition, add some fruit and vegetables to your diet, as well as some extra activity and exercise to your life. For some people, this is best done by doing something that makes sense to them, like walking to work. Park the car further away. Take the stairs. Stand up more often if you are in a sitting job. Simple things done often can mean a lot in the long term.

Stop smoking.

If you smoke, there really is no getting around it. You have to stop.

Stopping smoking is the one big thing that you can do to help yourself. Nicotine replacement therapy is now available via 8-1-1 to help you quit and your doctor can also help if you are having a really hard time.

A stroke is a real, life-threatening emergency and requires rapid emergency response. Lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of having one. Let’s make some changes!

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.


To eat or not to eat – that is the question


Even at this time of year, plenty of local vegetables are available to help you eat right! (Pictured: a recent selection from a Prince George Good Food Box. Photo by Anne Scott.)

To eat or not to eat: A bit cliché, but that really is the question I’ve been asking. I’m over 40 and the old metabolism doesn’t fire up as quickly as it used to. That means exercise and healthy eating are more important than ever. That also means that two things I’m really good at aren’t going to help – big portions and unhealthy food. Why is it that the food that tastes the best is always so bad? (That’s probably a question for a future blog, or maybe the Enquirer.)

That said, clearly one or both of two things need to change: I need to be more active and more purposeful at my activities, and/or I need to eat waaaaay healthier. Exercise, OK – I’m an active guy – I coach and play a variety of sports. Eating well is a different story. I asked around about who’s done what and what works. I got all kinds of advice: no carbs, low carbs, all meat (I liked the idea of that one), no fat, low fat, controlling portion sizes, calorie counting, and so on…. Clearly I would need to take this to an expert: late-night infomercials.

After doing the research and spending some time learning and planning, my wife (with some token input from me) settled on the following: regular exercise together, plus a healthy menu, appropriate portion sizes, no junk food, no late-night snacking, and no sugary drinks. I’m a month in, and so far, it’s not so bad. In a month or two, I’ll let you know how I feel.

So…. As for my experience with infomercials, I now have a ‘ShamWow’ and a ‘Slap Chop’ for sale. Bidders?

Have you made any changes to lead a healthier life lately?

Steve Raper

About Steve Raper

Steve is the Chief of External Relations and Communications for Northern Health, where he leads marketing, communications, web and media relations activities. He has a business diploma from the College of New Caledonia, a BA from the University of Northern BC and a master’s degree in business administration from Royal Roads University. In his spare time, Steve volunteers on a number of boards, including Canadian Blood Services, Pacific Sport Northern BC and the Prince George Youth Soccer Association. To stay active, he enjoys camping, and playing soccer and hockey.