Men are being urged to get checked for high blood pressure following the latest findings from Irish Heart’s national full-time Mobile Health Unit service which showed a higher prevalence of the silent risk factor for stroke and heart attack in men than women.
In a sample survey of 268 attendees, 41% of participants were found to have high blood pressure, with half of the men (51%) surveyed having high blood pressure, compared with just one third (33%) of women surveyed. The survey marks the Mobile Health Unit’s first year in operation, during which more than 11,000 people have had their blood pressure tested. The results were released as RTÉ Sport presenter Marty Morrissey had his blood pressure checked to encourage more men to avail of the free community service which is supported by Bank of Ireland and Medtronic.
The sample survey also found that of those participants who had their blood pressure checked and who were then advised by Irish Heart Nurses to follow up with their GP, men were more reluctant to visit their GP compared with women. Of those in this grouping who responded to a follow-up call at six weeks, only 42% of men reported as having gone to their GP compared with 54% of women.
Marese Damery, Health Check Manager, Irish Heart said:
“What this evaluation has highlighted is that men are more likely than women to have high blood pressure and even when advised to visit a GP, men are less likely to act on that advice. This is a continuing challenge for those of us who work in the health arena and especially when dealing with a silent risk factor like blood pressure, where a person can feel fine and not know that they have a problem.”
According to the national heart and stroke charity, the benefits of the public engaging in a one-to-one interaction with Irish Heart nurses delivering the mobile health service acts as a vital prompt to attendees to consider the full aspects of health and lifestyle in reducing their risk of heart disease and stroke.
“We know that there are groups of the population, such as men or those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have less opportunity or who are less inclined to access health services. The unfortunate flipside of this is that such groups have a higher risk of stroke and heart attack. One of the key benefits of our Mobile Health Unit is the opportunity to reach out to these people on their own doorsteps – in shopping centres, in community centres, in Men’s Sheds, etc. By coming to them, and interacting directly, we are removing some of the persistent barriers to looking after their health.”
Ms Damery continued:
“On a positive note, our survey showed that 43% of men reported making lifestyle changes as a result of the health check and were contemplating quitting smoking, reducing their alcohol intake or reviewing their diet.”
People already diagnosed with high blood pressure are also being encouraged to visit the free Mobile Health Unit service following findings from the survey that showed 63% of people who knew they had a history of high blood pressure, still tested high. According to Irish Heart, it is important to continue having regular checks with a doctor to ensure blood pressure is well managed. A normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80.
High blood pressure is estimated to affect almost one million people in Ireland and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and, significantly, it is the biggest risk factor for stroke. Eighty per cent of premature cardiovascular disease is caused by adverse lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, a lack of physical activity, and harmful alcohol use. These risk factors also contribute to high blood pressure but by making positive changes to these lifestyle factors, people can reduce their risk of high blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.
Irish Heart’s mobile health unit incorporates two professional consultation rooms where attendees can avail of free blood pressure checks which are entirely non-invasive. Nurses will provide individual/tailored lifestyle advice and information on next steps including managing blood pressure and following up with a GP, if necessary. For details of Irish Heart’s mobile health unit current locations, visit www.irishheart.ie
To speak in confidence with trained specialist nurses for expert one-to-one advice and support, call the National Heart & Stroke Helpline on Freefone 1800 25 25 50 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, Thursday until 7pm) or email email@example.com
Issued by: Don Delaney, d2 communications, tel.: 01 910 8987 / 087 793 3249 or email firstname.lastname@example.org