High blood pressure campaign launched by the Irish Heart Foundation

By Maeve O'Keeffe Heart News   |   22nd May 2023

Get checked – Before Damage is Done. The Irish Heart Foundation launches its new campaign to raise awareness of the importance of regular blood pressure checks.

The Irish Heart Foundation is launching a new campaign today asking adults, particularly those aged over-50, to have their blood pressure checked with their GP or local pharmacy.

The charity’s ‘Before Damage is Done’ campaign aims to drive awareness of the link between high blood pressure and heart disease and stroke.

The ‘silent killer’ affects two out of three over-50s – but because it is symptomless, half don’t know they have it.

Previous research shows Ireland has one of the lowest rates of awareness, treatment and control of high blood pressure among 12 high-income countries.

“The only way of finding out is to get it checked with your GP or local pharmacy as you will, most likely, have no symptoms,”

Dr Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation

Dr Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation, said thousands of people unwittingly go about their daily lives with high blood pressure.

“The only way of finding out is to get it checked with your GP or local pharmacy as you will, most likely, have no symptoms,” she said.

“It is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease and stroke but there are many factors that affect your risk.”

This message was echoed by gym receptionist and active mother-of-four, Lynda Sutton, who urges everyone to get their blood pressure checked, saying, “I thought I was invincible, but really, I could have been a ticking time bomb.”

Lynda, 59, from Donabate in North Dublin, discovered she has severely high blood pressure when the driver of the Irish Heart Foundation Mobile Health Unit parked near her local library and encouraged her to get a free heart health check, including a blood pressure assessment.

The Irish Heart Foundation nurse on duty immediately detected severely high blood pressure, and advised her to see her GP, who put her on medication.

Lynda had never suspected that she had been living with this condition, and because of her healthy lifestyle, she didn’t imagine she would be at risk. “ I told him (GP) I didn’t have stress or anxiety, I ate healthily and exercised with spin classes in the mornings. There is no high blood pressure in my family that I know of.”

Before Damage is Done

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Before Damage is Done

campaign video

“High blood pressure is one of the few conditions that people have the power to successfully manage – but only if they know they have it.”

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director and consultant cardiologist with the Irish Heart Foundation

At today’s campaign launch, which coincides with May Measurement Month, Dr Brown said, “high blood pressure is one of the few conditions that people have the power to successfully manage – but only if they know they have it.”

“Once detected, it is easily managed. Medication may be needed in addition to lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and embracing a balanced diet which limits salt intake. These changes can have a huge impact.”

Lynda said, “I thought I was healthy before but I have completely changed my diet. I’m eating plenty of fruit and veg and no salt.

“If the dog was sick, I would take her to the vet but if I was sick, I would never go to the doctor. That’s changed now and I know how important it is to get your blood pressure checked.”

Core Research for the Irish Heart Foundation shows that while many people know that high blood pressure is a risk factor leading to the development of cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke), there is a lack of awareness of other serious outcomes – such as dementia, kidney disease and some forms of blindness.

“If the dog was sick, I would take her to the vet but if I was sick, I would never go to the doctor. That’s changed now and I know how important it is to get your blood pressure checked.”

Lynda Sutton

The Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Health Unit offers free checks through its heart health checks in communities across Ireland.

Orlaith Gavan, Medical Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, said: “The Irish Heart Foundation’s ‘Before Damage is Done’ campaign is a really important reminder for people to have their blood pressure checked.

“We are really pleased to support the Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Health Unit as it embarks upon its continuous journey across Ireland. With around 10,000 checks undertaken every year, thousands of people in every county have benefitted from the services of the Mobile Health Unit since its launch in 2016.

“Many people may be unaware of their risk factors for cardiovascular disease and we would therefore encourage people to avail of this free and efficient service.”

Dr David McConaghy, ICGP/HSE Integrated Care Lead for Prevention said: “The Irish College of General Practitioners supports this campaign to raise awareness about blood pressure and encourage people to attend their GP practice for a cardiovascular review.”

Susan O’Dwyer, Head of Professional Services at the Irish Pharmacy Union said: “The Irish Pharmacy Union is delighted to support this important initiative and we encourage people to get their blood pressure checked in their local pharmacy before damage is done.

“Pharmacies nationwide offer blood pressure testing and many also offer 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. Call to your local pharmacy today to learn more.”

Keep an eye on our MHU page to see when the MHU will visit an area near you.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s Before Damage is Done campaign is kindly supported by Pfizer and endorsed by the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Irish Pharmacy Union.

Before Damage is Done Materials

Before Damage is Done

High blood pressure in many cases is easily managed, but, only if you know you have it

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