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4000 checks in 40 locations and counting!

Ryman PressureCheck Dec18

Brazil-trained cardiologist Laura Stephan helped Christchurch Rymanians step up to the mark today, as she helped blood pressure checks on behalf of the Stroke Foundation NZ.

Christchurch staff waited patiently and tried to keep stress levels low as they faced up to the circulation system measurements, courtesy of the foundation’s visiting van.

Laura, based in Wellington, has been in New Zealand about a year and drives around the country to offer the checks and advice to those that step into the van’s compartments.

There are things Kiwis should watch for including salt and alcohol intake, not smoking as well as opting for exercise and fresh and ‘whole” foods, she says.

If your pressure reading is towards the high end of the spectrum then Laura recommends more regular checks. “My father died of a stroke last year and his only risk factor was high blood pressure.”

Ryman is proud to have its name on the side of the van as part of a sponsorship.

Laura did 11 years of medical training in Brazil, and is doing further training in New Zealand as well as enjoying the feeling of relative safety of travelling around the country and getting to know Kiwi culture. She has residency, and plans to stay here. “New Zealand has treated me very well.”

Each year Ryman Healthcare chooses a single charity partner as the focus of its fundraising efforts. The company matches each dollar raised by residents and staff with its own corporate donation.

In June Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said Ryman’s charity partner for the year would be the Stroke Foundations in New Zealand and Australia.

Stroke is the third biggest killer in New Zealand and affects more than 475,000 Australians. Most strokes happen when a clot blocks the flow of blood to your brain

Stroke Foundation NZ Southern Region general manager Paul Rout said the van was taken around shopping malls, supermarkets, farmers markets and to the larger employers. Since the van trips started in October the team had visited about 40 locations in the South Island, and around 3,000-4,000 checks had been made. In the new year the van would move to the North Island.

“You don’t necessarily know you have high blood pressure unless you’ve had it checked. High blood pressure can lead to all sorts of cardiovascular problems. We call it the single most modifiable risk for stroke. For most people, once identified it can be treated through medication relatively straightforwardly,” Paul says.

“Most days we get two or three people, that we actually say to: ‘you’ve got to go straight to the emergency department because it’s so high that you’re at risk of having an immediate serious medical problem.”

Ryman has donated more than $3.2 million under its charity partnership programme since 1999. Other charities it has supported include Alzheimers NZ

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