LONDON, ONT. -- When it comes to high blood pressure and its health effects - the numbers are on the rise, but there's a program that's trying to change that.

“7.5 million Canadians now have high blood pressure and over 95,000 people die every year from heart diseases and stroke,” says Jennifer Hassan of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

With the goal of reducing the rates of people developing high blood pressure the foundation created a national program called Activate.

“Activate is a free six-month program that encourages participants to manage their blood pressure through healthy eating, getting more active and reducing stress,” says Hassan.

The program is for people over 40 who have elevated blood pressure, but have not yet developed high blood pressure.

Hassan says initial results show that program seems to be working.

“There’s been some great success. Our goal was to have blood pressure maintained but what we’ve seen from early participants is a reduction of blood pressure, which is great.”

The YMCA has teamed up with the Activate Program, providing participants with a free two-month membership and guidance from a personal trainer.

“This program is designed for everyone, so if you’ve never been in a fitness centre before and are brand new that’s totally fine,” says Tabitha Liston, manager of adult health and wellness at the YMCA.

“We will show you things that are easy to get started with and we are there with you and working with you.”

The Activate Program has been underway since 2018 and so far 4,500 people have enrolled in the program - but the goal is to actually enroll 7,000 people from across Canada.

Enrolment in London and St. Thomas is currently underway. Information on how to enrol and a list of participant perks can be found on the Heart and Stroke Foundation website.