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The Generational Impact of Comprehensive, Prevention-focused Family Medicine

Among the many factors that influence our health and well-being, the significance of knowing your family health history and genetic makeup cannot be overstated. This awareness provides crucial insights into potential genetic predispositions and highlights the need for a dedicated healthcare team that prioritizes the long-term health of your entire family. Such comprehensive care has been instrumental in the dramatic health improvements experienced by a Victoria-man who attributes his and his family’s exceptional healthcare to this diligent approach.

Making health the top priority

For Mark Simon and his family, investing in Vancouver-based Harrison Healthcare proved to be one the best decisions they’ve ever made, despite the distance from their home in Victoria.

Now in his mid-40s, Mark reflected on the nearing milestone of 50 and realized that he needed to start prioritizing his health. He worked out regularly and had relatively healthy eating habits but recognized that he could do more.

Taking action was another story. Busy with his business, four children and life, like many of us, he continued to do what he’d always done. His Physician at the time reported that he had high cholesterol, but instead of raising any alarm bells Mark was told to eat less fried food. He even ended up in the neurology ward shortly after where he was told that the vessels in his neck didn’t look great and was simply advised to “quit sugar.” The severity of what was happening to him was never raised.

“I thought it was a normal part of aging, but nothing too serious.”

It wasn’t until a colleague had a significant health event that Mark was finally motivated to take action. Mark’s colleague received such excellent care from the team-based Centre in Vancouver, it inspired Mark to check Harrison Healthcare out, despite the required ferry commute.

Since then, the Centre has become indispensable to the entire Simon family. Having continuity of care for the entire family all under one roof is not only supporting them now, but creating healthy habits for their children that will last a lifetime.

Family medicine at its finest

As a Premier program client, Mark’s journey began with a Personalized Health Assessment that included a deep dive into his family health history, something not considered by his previous care providers. His grandfather had passed away due to a cardiovascular health event, while both his mother and aunt were currently dealing with vascular conditions that, if found earlier could have been prevented. Combined with Mark’s elevated cholesterol, blood pressure and liver enzyme levels, his physician, Dr. Assadi, sounded the alarm.

“Dr. Assadi emphasized the seriousness of my condition and conducted further testing, including a calcium score assessment. The results were alarmingly high, indicating coronary disease.”

The calcium score placed Mark in the 99th percentile, indicating a significant accumulation of plaque in his arteries—a condition that could have been mitigated had it been detected earlier. Although the existing damage cannot be reversed, Mark now has the crucial information and support necessary to minimize further harm. He is backed by a dedicated team committed to preventing heart attack and stroke and improving his long-term health.

Charlotte, his wife, also received supportive care from Harrison, focused on diagnosing her anxiety and improving her mental well-being.

It wasn’t long before the Harrison team transformed into a deeply trusted family medical unit, providing the Simon’s with comprehensive support that transcended geographic barriers. In one particular case, Dr. Assadi was able to intervene with their daughter’s treatment in another province and provide care above and beyond what was offered at the hospital in Quebec.

The family gained incredible peace of mind thanks to their Registered Nurse, Kristi, prior to their vacation to Mexico. Mark had been anxious and reluctant to travel there again after a previous visit resulted in illness. However, equipped with his comprehensive personal and family history from his initiation at Harrison, and her expertise in Travel Medicine, Kristi was able to address his concerns effectively. After consulting with her, the family received the necessary vaccinations and medications, providing Mark with the peace of mind he needed to enjoy a relaxing vacation.

Preventing cardiovascular disease when the risk is high

“We’ve received amazing medical care, but for us the biggest benefit is disease prevention,” says Mark. This was particularly crucial for him because of his initial diagnosis. Over the course of a year, Mark and his team at Harrison dramatically lowered his health metrics back to healthy levels.  This was all done through committed lifestyle changes, the support of a multi-disciplinary team, and minimal medication.

“Neither I nor my doctor wanted me to be reliant on medication, so we focused as much as possible on what I could change in my lifestyle to make this happen,” says Mark.

Support and Lifestyle Modifications

Dr. Assadi and the client services team at Harrison helped find a cardiologist that was a great fit for Mark’s condition and was also located in Victoria.

“They did the legwork, and it took so much of the stress off me.”

Mark pointed out that reducing his stress was a crucial aspect of his health journey, attributing it to his significant blood pressure improvement. However, this was just one component of his holistic health reset. He collaborated closely with his Harrison Dietitian to refine his nutrition and worked with an Exercise Physiologist to focus on movement, especially on Zone 2 workouts, to benefit his mitochondrial function. Additionally, Mark invested in regular health scans, ensuring he was monitoring his progress and continuously moving towards his health goals.

“Mark highly values his health and the metrics that track it. A Dual X-ray Absorptiometry is an effective way to detail body composition. We talked about the importance of monitoring VAT or visceral fat, which is hormonally active and can lead to metabolic or heart conditions if in high volume. We reviewed normal levels for VAT and suggested focusing on reducing this specific type of fat rather than overall fat stores,” adds Exercise Physiologist, Sukhi Kambo.

Commitment to fitness, sleep, and nutrition

Mark’s Exercise Physiologist, Emily, worked with him on a comprehensive exercise program that focuses on enhancing cardiovascular health, strength, and mobility. This holistic approach is designed to support his overall health improvements while simultaneously strengthening the areas essential for a long and active life for decades to come.

Mark’s Fitness Regime

  • Strength training 3x/week with a personal trainer
  • Cardio 2-3x/week, 30min, zone 2 training where his heart rate remains at 60% to 70% of its maximum
  • Pilates and hot yoga for flexibility and mobility

This is supported by 7-8hrs of sleep per night, active stress management and a customized nutrition plan.

Mark focuses on lean protein and lots of nutrients while avoiding red meat and deep-fried foods. Over time, Mark worked with his Registered Dietitian, Dayna Zarn, to introduce a 16:8 fasting method two to three times a week to aid in abdominal weight loss, increased his protein intake for muscle support, and cut down on carbohydrates. He’s also added fasted workouts to enhance fat burning for energy.

The generational impact

There’s a great deal of stress that the team at Harrison has lifted from Mark’s shoulders since he started down his new path to wellness. He now has the priceless peace of mind that not only are his health concerns well managed, but his wife and 4 children are also very well taken care of, both physically and mentally, for years to come.

“Lifestyle change has a lot to do with how healthy you are, but understanding my health history has been just as important for me. I feel so lucky that I can pass this information onto my kids so they can start preventing these issues now,” reflects Mark.

His children have already started to make healthier choices, influenced by their dad’s experience. This ripple effect of positive change is what truly sets Harrison apart as a comprehensive healthcare provider. The impact goes beyond just one individual and extends to future generations who will also benefit from a proactive approach to health.

“We have a medical team who really cares about our health,” says Mark, “It feels like we’re in this together.”


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We would like to acknowledge with gratitude that we operate on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, and of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Mountain Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3) in Calgary. With appreciation, we recognize that these lands have been stewarded by them since time immemorial.

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