A Nova Scotia senior says a blood pressure machine and a quick-thinking pharmacist may have just saved his life.

Anse MacDonald had never used a pharmacy blood pressure machine until Feb. 28, when he stopped at the pharmacy at the Sobeys store on New Glasgow’s west side.

“There was a lineup and instead of doing something else, I saw this machine and I decided I’d, for the hell of it, give it a go,” says MacDonald.

The machine has guidelines for high readings and MacDonald noticed his numbers were pushing those limits.

Some pharmacies offer extra services, so the pharmacist behind the counter took MacDonald to a private room for a more accurate reading.

Michelle Stewart says she grew concerned as his pressure continued to rise.

“It wasn’t only high, but he really was asymptomatic,” says Stewart. “He felt really well and as I repeated the measurement it continued to increase, so that was concerning.”

Stewart called 911 and, despite mild protest, MacDonald agreed to be taken to hospital by ambulance.

“The tightness he felt around his abdomen was now more like a pain in his chest, so at that point, 911 had already been called and the ambulance was already on the way, but it was kind of extra reassurance that the phone call needed to be made,” says Stewart.

“If she hadn’t been busy I wouldn’t have bothered with my blood pressure,” says MacDonald. “Who knows what would have happened?”

MacDonald says his readings at the hospital were 200 over 180, and he ended up spending two days there. Now he jokes that Stewart’s quick-thinking and decisive action kept him out of the funeral home.

“If she wasn’t here, if she hadn’t have been here or she hadn’t taken care of me, I’d be up at Bob Porter’s [Funeral Home],” he says.

“I’m very grateful that Anse is OK and even more grateful that, you know, that I got to help him,” says Stewart.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh