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Chief Mark Saunders
Mark Saunders, Chief of Police, participates in the kick-off cardiac health fair held at Toronto Police headquarters earlier this month. (Photo: Toronto Police Service)

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) motto is "to serve and protect."

This month, a unique partnership between the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC) and TPS Wellness unit is out to protect those who serve. Officers and staff have the chance to participate in a quick cardiac check-up, helping to promote awareness of heart health and risks surrounding cardiovascular disease.  

Cardiac-related health conditions are one of the highest disease concerns affecting the TPS population. Dr. Barry Rubin, Medical Director of PMCC, knows first-hand; he's treated several police officers and emergency responders in the operating room.

"I've learned of the stress officers face and their elevated risk for heart disease," says Dr. Rubin. "I would much rather see you now if your cholesterol is a little too high, rather than after you've had a heart attack.

"We want to be in the prevention business."

Dr. Paul Oh taking blood pressure
Dr. Paul Oh, Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program at UHN, checks the blood pressure of Barbara McLean, Deputy Chief. (Photo: Toronto Police Service)

To help lower the risk, five drop-in cardiac health fairs will be held throughout November at various TPS precincts. Led by members of UHN's Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program,* including program lead Dr. Paul Oh, officers and staff will have the opportunity to check their blood pressure, calculate their body mass index and life expectancy and answer screening question about diet and sleeping habits.

To kick off the initial health fair held at TPS headquarters earlier this month, Mark Saunders, Chief of Police, attended and encouraged members to have honest conversations about their health.

"This screening gives you the information you need to be able to keep your heart strong," says Chief Saunders. "If you're going to wait for something to happen before you seek medical attention, it's often too late."

Ivy Nanayakkara, Manager of the TPS Wellness Unit, believes initiatives such as cardiac health fairs help bring awareness of health issues and resources to the Service and allows members to make informed decisions about their own health and well-being.

"One of goals for health promotion is to prevent illness and injury from occurring in the first place, and in cases where it does occur, reduce the impact of the illness or injury," says Ivy. "For members this could mean better understanding of risk factors and resources available for assistance."

Group shot at TPS HQ
(L to R) Dr. Paul Oh, Chief Mark Saunders, Dr. Barry Rubin, Toronto Police Services Board Executive Director Ryan Teschner, Mike McCormack, Toronto Police Association President, and Superintendent Michael Barskey, a representative of the Senior Officers' Organization, at kick-off cardiac health fair held at Toronto Police headquarters. (Photo: Toronto Police Service)

This week, the cardiac health fairs will be visiting 23 Division on Wednesday and the 41 Division on Saturday.

Special thanks to Jessica Nooyen, Project Manager for UHN's Cardiac Rehab Program, who coordinated the activities and schedules for the TPS cardiac health fairs.

This partnership was the result of the joint efforts of Chief Mark Saunders, Barbara McLean, Deputy Chief, Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack, former TPS Board Chair Andy Pringle, Dr. Barry Rubin and Dr. Paul Oh.

* We are proud of the cardiovascular care we provide at UHN. From prevention, to acute, to rehabilitation, we offer an integrated continuum of care through the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and Toronto Rehab. The Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program at UHN is located at Toronto Western Hospital's GoodLife Fitness Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Unit and Toronto Rehab's Rumsey Centre.

Dr. Paul Oh taking blood pressure
Dr. Paul Oh checks the blood pressure of Ivy Nanayakkara, Manager of the TPS Wellness Unit. (Photo: Toronto Police Service)

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