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We do not store details you enter into this form. Please see our privacy policy for more information. Click here to return to the Medical News Today home page. In the United States, approximately one in every three adults has high blood pressure , which equates to about 75 million people , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. Without treatment, high blood pressure, or hypertension , can lead to grave health conditions, including heart failure , vision loss, stroke , and kidney disease. In this article, we look at the causes of high blood pressure and how to treat it.

We also explain the blood pressure measurements that health authorities consider to be healthy and too high. The heart then pumps oxygen-rich blood around the body to supply the muscles and cells. This pumping action creates pressure. If a person has high blood pressure, it means that the walls of the arteries are constantly under too much force. Even though essential high blood pressure has no identifiable cause, strong evidence links specific factors to the risk of developing this condition.

Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases as a person becomes older because the blood vessels become less flexible. Family history: People who have close family members with hypertension have a significantly higher risk of developing it themselves. Ethnic background: African-American people have a higher risk of developing hypertension than other people. Hypertension also presents more severely in African-American people and is less responsive to certain medications.

Obesity and being overweight: People who are overweight or have obesity are more likely to develop high blood pressure. Some aspects of sex: In general, high blood pressure is more common among adult men than adult women. However, after the age of 55 years , a woman's relative risk of hypertension increases. Physical inactivity: Lack of exercise and having a sedentary lifestyle raise the risk of hypertension.

Smoking: Tobacco intake causes the blood vessels to narrow, resulting in higher blood pressure. Smoking also reduces the blood's oxygen content, so the heart pumps faster to compensate, causing an increase in blood pressure. Alcohol intake: Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can dramatically raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart failure, stroke, and irregular heartbeat. Poor diet: Many healthcare professionals say that a diet high in fats and salt leads to a high risk of hypertension. However, most dietitians stress that the problem is the type of fat rather than the amount.

Plant sources of fats, such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and omega oils, are healthful. Saturated fats and trans fats, which are common in animal-sourced and processed foods, are bad for health. High cholesterol: More than 50 percent of all people with high blood pressure have high cholesterol. A diet that contains lots of unhealthful fats can cause cholesterol to build up in the arteries.

Mental stress: Stress can have a severe impact on blood pressure, especially when it is chronic. It can occur as a result of both socioeconomic and psychosocial factors. Excessive stress might also lead to actions that increase the risk of hypertension, such as consuming larger amounts of alcohol. Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing hypertension. However, prescribed use of insulin and consistent blood sugar control can reduce the long-term risk of people with type 1 diabetes developing hypertension.

People with type 2 diabetes are at risk of hypertension as a result of high blood sugar, as well as other factors, such as certain medications, underlying cardiovascular disease, and being overweight or having obesity. Pregnancy: Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing hypertension than women of the same age who are not pregnant.

Preeclampsia is a placental disorder that can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels. Sleep apnea: This sleep disorder, which causes people to stop breathing while asleep, might also lead to hypertension. Most people with high blood pressure will not experience any symptoms. People often call hypertension the "silent killer" for this reason. At this stage, symptoms will show, including:. Newborns and very young babies with high blood pressure may experience the following signs and symptoms:.

People with a diagnosis of high blood pressure should get frequent blood pressure checks. Individuals whose blood pressure is within the normal range should get a reading at least once every 5 years, while anyone with some of the risk factors above should have more frequent checks. Without treatment or control measures, excessive pressure on the artery walls can lead to damage of the blood vessels, which is a form of cardiovascular disease. It can also damage some vital organs.

New Guidelines for High Blood Pressure

The extent of the damage depends on the severity of hypertension and how long it continues without treatment. Treatment for high blood pressure depends on several factors, such as severity and the associated risks of developing cardiovascular disease or stroke. Slightly elevated: The doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes for people with slightly elevated blood pressure who have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Moderately high: If blood pressure is reasonably high, and the doctor believes that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease during the next 10 years is above 20 percent, they will probably prescribe medication and recommend certain lifestyle changes.

An immediate change to the type or dosage of medication may be necessary. In , the American Heart Association AHA issued guidelines introducing lifestyle adjustments that can help reduce blood pressure. Even walking for 30 minutes on 3—4 days of the week will usually reduce a person's blood pressure by 4 mm Hg , according to an older study in Hypertension journal. People should see the benefits quite soon after beginning an exercise program. Blood pressure will usually start to improve within a matter of 2 to 3 weeks, especially in people who are just embarking on a more active lifestyle.

A person should check with their doctor before embarking on any physical activity program and ensure that they tailor exercise to their own needs and state of health. Exercise is most effective when it is regular. Exercising at weekends and doing nothing from Monday to Friday will be much less effective than exercising every other day, for example. Studies have revealed that even moderate weight loss of between 5 and 10 pounds can make a significant contribution to lowering elevated blood pressure. People who are overweight should aim to get closer to their healthy weight range.

Blood pressure is likely to fall as a result. Weight loss will also improve the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. Achieving a healthy body weight involves a combination of exercise, a healthful diet, and at least 7 hours of good quality sleep each night. Keeping a food diary can also improve the effectiveness of a weight loss program. Some low-quality studies have shown that certain relaxation techniques, including yoga , meditation, and guided breathing, can have a short-term and low-level impact on blood pressure.

The AHA issued a statement noting that there is modest evidence to support the efficacy of some meditation techniques in reducing blood pressure. A review found some very low-quality evidence in support of yoga as a way to manage hypertension. However, the authors noted that yoga was no more beneficial for hypertension than regular exercise.

Although increasing sleep alone cannot treat hypertension, sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality have strong links to high blood pressure. A analysis of data from a Korean national health survey found that hypertension was significantly more common among the participants who had less than 5 hours of sleep per night. However, while improved sleep may support active treatment for high blood pressure, it is not a standalone solution.

Below are some of the most common drugs for treating high blood pressure.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Some people might require a combination of several different medications. Angiotensin-converting enzyme ACE inhibitors block the actions of some hormones that regulate blood pressure, such as angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes the arteries to constrict and increases blood volume, resulting in increased blood pressure. People with a history of heart disease , women who are pregnant, and individuals with conditions that affect the blood supply to the kidneys should not take ACE inhibitors. Doctors may order a blood test to determine whether the individual has any preexisting kidney problems.

ACE inhibitors can reduce the blood supply to the kidneys, making them less effective. As a result, regular blood tests are necessary. If a person finds the side effects too unpleasant or long-lasting to manage, a doctor may prescribe an angiotensin II receptor antagonist instead.

Side effects are less common with these alternative medications, but they may include dizziness, headaches, and increased potassium levels in the blood. The primary effect of calcium channel blockers CCBs is to decrease calcium levels in the blood vessels. A drop in calcium relaxes the vascular smooth muscle. The muscle contracts less strongly, resulting in the widening of the arteries, which leads to reduced blood pressure. People with a history of heart disease, liver disease, or circulation issues should not take CCBs.

Individuals using CCBs may experience the following side effects, which usually resolve after a few days:. Thiazide diuretics act on the kidneys to help the body get rid of sodium and water, resulting in lower blood volume and pressure. They are often a doctor's first choice of high blood pressure medication. People taking thiazide diuretics should receive regular blood and urine tests to monitor their blood sugar and potassium levels. Those over 80 years of age may need to take indapamide Lozol , a particular type of thiazide diuretic that helps reduce the risk of death from stroke, heart failure, and some other types of cardiovascular disease.

Beta-blockers were once very popular for the treatment of hypertension. Nowadays, people are more likely to use them when other treatments have not been successful. Beta-blockers slow the heart rate and reduce the force of the heartbeat, causing a drop in blood pressure. Aliskiren Tekturna, Rasilez reduces the production of renin, which is an enzyme that the kidneys produce.

Renin plays a key role in the production of angiotensin I, a protein that the body converts into the hormone angiotensin II.

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This hormone narrows blood vessels and raises blood pressure. By doing this, it causes the blood vessels to widen, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. As it is a relatively new medication, healthcare professionals are still determining its optimal use and dosage. It is essential to read the packaging of any medication to check for interactions with other drugs. A healthful, balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, vegetable and omega oils, and good-quality, unrefined carbohydrates.

People who include animal products in their diet should trim all the fat off and avoid processed meats. The World Health Organization WHO strongly recommend that their member states take active steps to reduce salt consumption across the whole population.

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Reducing salt intake by 3 grams per day could have profound effects on cardiovascular health, reducing systolic blood pressure by 5. The AHA recommend limiting salt intake to no more than 2, milligrams mg every day, with a view to eventually reducing this amount to 1, mg. People in the U. Those who often lose large quantities of sodium in the sweat, such as athletes, do not need to reduce their salt intake to the same extent.

The AHA also recommend this diet for people with high blood pressure. The DASH diet focuses on an eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and low-fat dairy products. The plan essentially uses a "pyramid" of healthful foods, with grains, fruits, and vegetables making up the foundation of the diet and fats, sweets, and meat forming the top of the pyramid, which represents much lower consumption.

Some studies indicate that consuming alcohol helps lower blood pressure , while others report the opposite. In minimal amounts, alcohol may lower blood pressure.

However, drinking too much, even in moderate amounts, might increase blood pressure levels. People who regularly drink more than moderate amounts of alcohol will almost always experience elevated blood pressure levels. Many studies report on the relationship between caffeine and blood pressure. They have conflicting conclusions but agree that moderating caffeine intake is advisable for people with high blood pressure.

Doctors will define a blood pressure reading under one of the following five categories :. A person in hypertensive crisis may need a prompt change in medication if they give no other indications of problems. Immediate hospitalization may be necessary if organ damage has occurred. Most people will have seen this device, which consists of an inflatable cuff that wraps around the upper arm. When the cuff inflates, it restricts blood flow. A doctor will often use a manual sphygmomanometer together with a stethoscope. With a digital sphygmomanometer, electrical sensors take all of the measurements.

Advances in new wearable technology mean that people can now keep track of their blood pressure at home. Read our review of the best home blood pressure monitors currently available for home use. One blood pressure reading is insufficient to diagnose hypertension. The Kidney Foundation of Canada is delighted about this piece of news. Without your donations, the Foundation would not be able to foster government action to improve treatment conditions for kidney patients.

The Foundation favours home dialysis, which is an excellent option for many patients. Unfortunately, some patients are unable to enjoy the benefits of home dialysis because of their state of health. Consequently, the Foundation is looking forward to the day the Baie-Comeau centre opens its doors. Regardless of the various kinds of planned gifts that are available, such as testamentary donations, in cash or shares, it occurred to me that contracting a life insurance policy with The Kidney Foundation of Canada as the beneficiary would allow me to reach many of my goals, while giving the Foundation the security of knowing how much funding it will be able to rely on in the future.

By subscribing to this kind of policy, I know that the Foundation will benefit from the capital the policy generates long after I pass on. The policy will also generate returns on top of the insured capital. Moreover, in my lifetime, the premiums I pay each year will enjoy favourable tax treatment. Not bad, eh? If only I had known about this when I was younger, I would have made use of it much earlier. By choosing this course, I know that the Foundation and I will be sharing this journey for years to come and sustaining our commitment to kidney disease research, patient services and the promotion of organ donation.

My experience with the Foundation has shown me time and time again that the people in your life can be very appreciative of the time and energy you invest in such a wonderful cause. If you are interested in this approach, please take the time to find out more about the benefits and terms by speaking with Mr.

You could also g et a quote for a life insurance benefiting The Kidney Foundation of Canada by filling in this short form and we will contact you in the next business day with a quote for a life-insurance policy. Claude Pigeon Kidney Foundation of Canada volunteer since On October 17, , I had a kidney transplant thanks to my mother, France Boulay. I recently applied to The Kidney Foundation of Canada in the hope of receiving a scholarship so I could go to university. It was actually a very quick and simple process. You have no idea how much that money was going to help me.

Because I had been recovering for a few months and was unable to work, I was fortunate enough to have this funding to help me pay my rent and cover part of my tuition fees. And as a year-old, it was important to me that my life get back to normal and that I go back to university despite my regular follow-up visits to the kidney transplant clinic. In addition to being accessible, the Foundation provides people living with kidney disease the opportunity to keep studying, which helps them view life from a different angle than just their struggle with health issues.

I would personally like to thank The Kidney Foundation of Canada for these scholarships. Thank you so much! Gui-Gabrielle Boulay Fortin. In , 56 people became living kidney donors, a year record according to information from the transplantation programs. In , there were actual organ donors, transplant recipients and kidney transplants from both deceased and living donors. The organ donation waiting list is also at its shortest in a decade. Its goal was to inform health professionals about chronic kidney failure.

We would also like to thank our partners. I read with interest the article about Philippe Ouaknine ed. Dialysis treatments that cause unspeakable pain and an interminable wait for a kidney transplant. Solitude and doubt, which wash over him like waves lapping at and eroding the banks of his hope. Yet he never gives up and soldiers on courageously: he is the source from which I plan to draw my strength when I have to fight my own battle.

I am a newcomer to this fight. After undergoing a nephrectomy, I had to get used to the idea of peritoneal dialysis. For the longest time, I believed that I would refuse these treatments, yet here I am at 81, confronting this hard reality. I am currently in predialysis, which is gradually preparing me for the worst and turning me into an everyday guerrilla fighter. Swaddled in this caring atmosphere, kidney patients are more likely to confront their disease with a positive attitude. To all of you who make a real difference in our lives, thank you.

The Quebec City Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to thank all the sponsors and participants who helped make it possible. Pneumococcus is a type of bacteria that can have serious effects on your health. If you have a chronic kidney disease, such as renal failure, you are more likely to contract a pneumococcal infection. Each year, tens of thousands of Quebecers develop a pneumococcal infection even though there is a vaccine to prevent it. The bacteria is most often caught through contact with the respiratory droplets expelled into the air by coughing or sneezing or other means of an infected person.

The bacteria may cause infections in the lungs, meninges the membranes surrounding the brain , or blood. Some of these infections lead to permanent health effects like deafness or brain damage and can even result in death. Most cases involve very young children under age 5 or elderly people age 65 and over. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself! If you have not been immunized against pneumococcal infections, there are several ways to do so.

Adults who have received one dose of the vaccine in their lifetime are usually sufficiently protected. Vaccination is the best protection! He recently decided to step down for personal reasons that prevented him from fulfilling his mission. Born with only one kidney, Nelson Bellavance has been living with kidney failure since he was In , at age 50, Nelson was told that his single impaired kidney would need four hours of dialysis, three times a week, to function properly.

After 15 years on dialysis, not to mention 15 major operations since the age of 17, Nelson is still a powerhouse. The Kidney Foundation of Canada is proud to have such an exceptional volunteer at its side—so exceptional, in fact, that in the summer of , Nelson cycled an unbelievable 4, kilometres!

From now on, he will dedicate his time to the role of vice-president of Patient Services, a position he held while chapter president. Before receiving a kidney transplant, he suffered from kidney failure for several years and underwent home dialysis.

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He will be replaced as chapter president by year-old Christina Tanguay-Dumas, an accountant at Desjardins. She began working with the Foundation in fall and has since joined the Kidney Walk Committee. Quebec Branch board of directors, September 28, The Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to pay tribute to Dr. Pierre Nantel, who passed away last May. He represented the Quebec Branch in negotiations with the government on a range of matters. He was a well-known speaker at events focused on raising awareness about kidney disease among the general public, patients and health professionals.

Nantel personally contacted the executive directors of every hospital and the chairpersons of every medical advisory board in Quebec, as well as dentists and pharmacists, in order to recruit people who would be dedicated to coordinating potential organ donations. He was also chairman of the Prevention Committee, which was formed in Nantel organized and gave talks at the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention, which takes place in a different part of Quebec each year.

The instant Monika learned that Robert, her uncle by marriage, was on dialysis, she offered him one of her kidneys. She soon met with the staff at the transplant clinic and underwent a battery of tests to determine not only whether her kidney would be compatible, but also whether she would be able to undergo the surgery without risking her health. They also made sure that she fully understood what she was getting into. The transplant took place on July Monika is already back to her old routine, which includes work-outs at the gym.

Robert also recovered quickly and is playing hockey again, just three months after the transplant. Supporting research and enhancing quality of life for people suffering from kidney disease. You can listen to them telling their stories in French only on the au microphone website.

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  5. A team led by Dr. Her team has identified a new class of antibodies — anti-LG3 — which when activated lead to severe rejection episodes associated with a high rate of organ loss. This discovery, which holds promise for organ recipients, was published in the online version of the American Journal of Transplantation. Rejection is one of the major obstacles to organ transplantation. Called acute vascular rejection, this phenomenon often leads to a high rate of graft loss.

    By identifying the heightened presence of anti-LG3 antibodies in patients prior to transplantation, researchers will be able to predict the development of severe rejection episodes. She has been working with The Kidney Foundation of Canada as a speaker specializing in kidney transplantation. This project will be the first time that the technology will be used on a large group of unrelated patients.

    The proximal tubule is one of the most important parts of the kidney filtration system as it plays a key role in transferring vital components such as sodium and other ions, water, glucose, and amino acids back into the blood. When the proximal tubule is unable to do this, patients become very sick because the body can no longer retain these vital elements. Unfortunately, genetic disorders affecting the proximal tubule are very serious and cannot be cured. Lemaire is a recipient of a Krescent Fellowship. At the time, people over 60 were not eligible for transplants, but because his son had a kidney to give, the surgeons agreed to perform the operation.

    Michel returned to work only eight days later. Twenty years later and with a fully functioning kidney, Michel regularly visits dialysis patients in his community. Transplant and dialysis technology has really improved over the years. Photo caption: Michel Perron in during his North Pole expedition. He celebrated the 20th anniversary of his transplant on April 7, In , Richard Tremblay was working as a police officer in metropolitan Sherbrooke.

    On learning about the painfully long wait his friend had to endure, Richard decided to act. The goal: raise public awareness of the importance of signing an organ donor card. Paul David, Senator and founder of the Montreal Heart Institute, and the show was a resounding success! The telethon was held the two following years as well. However, in , CODA reinvented itself and launched what would be a North American first: the overland transportation of organs, tissues and medical equipment. The project gave rise to others like it, and 25 years later, CODA has 11 transportation units across Quebec, including the permanent unit at Pierre-Elliot Trudeau International Airport, yet another North American first!

    In the meantime, the organization took on a second mission, that of posthumously recognizing deceased donors, as well as living donors, their families and the police officers who give of their time to transport organs, tissues and medical teams. The reason for this is that kidney diseases are often silent.

    So if we can measure protein in the blood of someone, that level of protein will tell us if this patient is going to require chronic dialysis or transplantation. This is very important. Biomarkers are very helpful in predicting who is going to respond — or not - to therapy. It can be measured in the blood and helps predict whether or not someone will suffer from myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease. Since his arrival, the amounts raised each year have continued to rise.

    Attracting some people, the event will celebrate its 7th anniversary this year. Making countless phone calls and somehow managing to convince volunteers to canvass La Sarre and the 24 neighbouring parishes, he was strongly committed to the cause of kidney disease.

    What to know about high blood pressure

    In his early days with the Foundation, he also fought for the creation of the dialysis centre in La Sarre. Despite working tirelessly in the food industry, he found a way to give generously of his time to his family and the community: he served as school commissioner for 41 years, spent 33 years as a volunteer firefighter, and dedicated his last 12 years to The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

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    His loss has created a void that will be difficult to fill. His determination and perseverance will inspire us to continue his work on this aspect of our mission. On February 6, , Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II marked the 60th anniversary of her accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada - an occasion marked only once before by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in In celebration of this event, a commemorative medal was created to recognize outstanding Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life, people who have built and continue to build our caring society and country through their service, contributions and achievements.

    During this year of celebration, 60, deserving Canadians were recognized. The Kidney Foundation is pleased to highlight the awarding of this prestigious distinction to these dedicated volunteers. This medal recognizes their outstanding involvement in the fight against kidney disease. In , he was awarded the National Special Appreciation Award for his fundraising successes.

    This symposium is held every year in a different region of Quebec. Denis Marquis has been a Foundation volunteer for over 25 years. He has served as Quebec Branch president on two occasions: from to and from to These three National Recognition awards are conferred by the Kidney Foundation of Canada to recognize the exceptional work of volunteers. Christopher Gobeil has been a Foundation volunteer for over 20 years, and active both within the Quebec Branch and the National Office.

    Christopher has long dedicated himself to the Foundation in order to improve quality of life for people living with kidney disease. Tetiana Gerych has been involved with the Foundation since A devoted volunteer, she has always eagerly shared her knowledge and connections with the Foundation. Pierre Cartier. As a new member of the Prevention Committee, he worked with the Branch to create the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention, a conference focusing on the increasing incidence of chronic kidney failure in Quebec.

    Cartier, a practicing nephrologist, has long been an avid proponent of programs and services for people with kidney disease across the province. His clinical interests include dialysis, predialysis and arterial hypertension. In , Dr. Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Cartier continues to put his vast experience and wide-ranging knowledge to use, and remains an invaluable resource for the Quebec Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

    Congratulations, Dr. The goal of the symposium was to inform health professionals about chronic kidney failure. The symposium also enabled the Foundation to present the results of a diabetes screening campaign aimed at high-risk ethnic and cultural communities in the Montreal area. The project was made possible by financial support from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The symposium was sponsored by Janssen Inc. While the number of people requiring a kidney transplant is steadily increasing, the number of deceased organ donors - by far the largest donor pool — remains static.

    Epidemiologist Caren Rose is looking at the figures in new ways, with an eye to increasing the number of donations from deceased persons. Caren Rose is a statistician at St. Conventional ways of charting potential donors on an on-going basis are costly and not very feasible. Working with Dr. John Gill, a transplant nephrologist at St. We now estimate the number to be under three per cent. Our underlying goal is to figure out how we can get more deceased donors. The number of patients suffering from kidney failure is growing steadily.

    In Quebec, an estimated 8, patients are receiving care at a kidney protection predialysis clinic, while over 4, are actively on dialysis. Organ donation needs have risen sharply due to the rapid rise in the number of people living with kidney disease. Demand for organs greatly outweighs supply. The most recent Canadian Institute for Health Information report on organ donation notes that the gap is growing between the number of organs available for transplantation and the number of people awaiting a life-saving transplant.

    Of the organs people are waiting for, kidneys top the list. This striking data clearly shows that, unfortunately, the incidence of kidney disease is only growing, and that we must act quickly to improve quality of life for people suffering from this life-threatening illness. This year, over 50 children took part. My name is Joanne Vachon. I am a young woman from the Beauce who, like you, is living with kidney failure, the outcome of a debilitating disease.

    Three months after I gave birth to my second daughter, my legs swelled up like balloons. Following a series of tests and an analysis of the renal biopsy I had undergone, the diagnosis came down: AL amyloidosis affecting both my kidneys. I was 31, married with two young children, two university degrees, a job I loved… I was floored. That day and the next six years would turn out to be the worst crisis I would ever endure. I have been undergoing peritoneal dialysis since This kind of dialysis is great for me, because it has the advantage of being portable. So I can still be a mother and drive my kids to all their activities, and believe me, there are a lot of them.

    My husband and I are both really into sports, and so are the kids. This four-day festival has been around for eight years, and 4, athletes now take part each year. A number of sports are featured at the festival, including soccer, deck hockey, beach volleyball, softball, basketball and running. As a result, two new activities were added to the program — a swim-o-thon and walking — and 75 people took part in the walk to support the Foundation. A swim-o-thon was also organized by high-school graduate Ariane Boutin as part of her school project: two hours of non-stop swimming, either solo or in teams of four, in an outdoor pool heated just for the occasion.

    Thirty-one swimmers took to the water under a sunny sky and in a fun-filled family atmosphere.