One in two people referred to GP following free Irish Heart Foundation heart health check

Sian Moloughney

Reporter:

Sian Moloughney

Email:

sian.moloughney@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Irish Heart Foundation

Above: At the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Health Unit supported by Pfizer Bristol-Myers Squibb are: Dr. Declan O’Callaghan, Medical Director with Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, Eddie Molloy, Mobile Health Unit visitor and Dr. Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation.

The Irish Heart Foundation is calling on the public to visit its Mobile Health Unit as it travels across the country in a bid to help people mind their hearts.

The Mobile Health Unit offers free heart health checks to the public which include a blood pressure check, a pulse check, heart health information, and lifestyle advice. Over 1.2 million people in Ireland are predicted to have high blood pressure by next year, so it is time to catch high blood pressure before it catches you.

The Irish Heart Foundation has launched its new partnership with Pfizer Bristol-Myers Squibb which will support the Mobile Health Unit for six months in offering the free heart health checks to local communities across Ireland. As the leading cause of stroke and heart attack in Ireland, the Irish Heart Foundation is raising awareness of the danger of high blood pressure and helping people to catch it in time.

An evaluation carried out on over 20,000 Mobile Health Unit visitors across 2017 and 2018 revealed that one in three people had high blood pressure while more than two in five (41%) visitors aged over 50 had high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often symptomless, and many people are unaware they have it, yet a blood pressure check is a simple, quick and non-invasive check which could prove lifesaving.

Once identified, high blood pressure is manageable through lifestyle changes and medication if required. The evaluation on Mobile Health Unit visitors also revealed that 56% drank alcohol, with 9% drinking in excess of the guidelines, and one in four were inactive five days per week, both which can increase blood pressure.

Dr Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation, said: “Having a heart health check regularly allows people to monitor their blood pressure and pulse, and be referred to the GP when necessary. Our evaluation revealed that over half of people checked were referred to the GP which is an alarmingly high rate. High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart attack and stroke in Ireland, and yet many people do not know what their blood pressure is or that a normal blood pressure reading is around 120 over 80.”

“80% of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable and it is important that the public take the opportunity to receive their free check and advice when in their locality. We are delighted Pfizer Bristol-Myers Squibb has sponsored the Mobile Health Unit and enabled us to provide free heart health checks to communities and help us in our fight against heart disease and stroke.”

Dr. Declan O’Callaghan, Medical Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, said: “Pfizer is delighted to support the Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Health Unit as it embarks upon its next journey across Ireland. Thousands of people in every country have benefitted from the services of the Mobile Health Unit in the last couple of years. Many people may be unaware of their risk factors for cardiovascular disease and we would, therefore, encourage people to avail of this free service and efficient service.”

The Irish Heart Foundation’s heart health checks are free, and the charity encourages all adults aged 30 and over to have their blood pressure checked each year. For more information about the Mobile Health Unit and to view its upcoming locations, please visit www.irishheart.ie, or call the Irish Heart Foundation at 01 6685001.