High blood pressure is one of the most common alcohol-related health problems.
High blood pressure, stroke and a range of different heart conditions, these are just come of the many cardiac related difficulties caused by drinking too much alcohol.
In fact, drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time or drinking too much on a single occasion (binge drinking), can seriously damage your heart.
The HSE’s AskAboutAlcohol.ie and the Irish Heart Foundation have embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of the links between alcohol and heart health.
The campaign, which will run for the next two weeks, aims to educate people about the fact that as well as the many harms caused by alcohol, it also hurts our heart. You can look after your heart and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by drinking less alcohol and asking your GP or pharmacist to check your blood pressure.
"High blood pressure can be dangerous if left untreated,"
Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director , Irish Heart Foundation
Nearly one million people in Ireland have high blood pressure, a major cause of heart attack or stroke, and last year almost 9,000 people died from cardiovascular disease in Ireland. High blood pressure usually comes with an even bigger problem — a lack of symptoms. High blood pressure is one of the most common alcohol-related health problems, but many people don’t realise they have it.
Drinking too much alcohol over time raises your blood pressure, which means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. High blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of stroke and heart disease; it can affect how quickly a heart beats (arrhythmias); and can even cause the heart muscles to weaken (alcoholic cardiomyopathy).
Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation, explained, “It’s so important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, as high blood pressure can be dangerous if left untreated. Three in five adults over the age of 45 have high blood pressure but the good news is that it is one of the most preventable alcohol-related problems – once detected it can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes such as drinking less and possibly medication. Ask your GP or pharmacist to check your blood pressure or visit the Irish Heart Foundation’s mobile health unit for a free heart health check.”
“You don’t need to be dependent on alcohol for it to damage your health,"
Marion Rackard, HSE Alcohol Programme
Often, there can be a gap between people’s perception of what they drink and what they actually drink. The more alcohol you drink the higher the risk of developing high blood pressure, but even one drink a day can increase your risk. You can use the Drinks Calculator on AskAboutAlcohol.ie to find out if your drinking level might be putting you at risk.
Marion Rackard from the HSE Alcohol Programme said it was important for everyone to be informed: “You don’t need to be dependent on alcohol for it to damage your health. The purpose of AskAboutAlcohol.ie is to improve people’s knowledge about alcohol so that each person becomes more aware of how much they are drinking, how it affects their physical and mental health, and how they can gain more by drinking less.”
HSE Radio Advertisements will run nationally for the next two weeks encouraging people to get their blood pressure checked and to visit askaboutalcohol.ie to find out more about how alcohol affects their heart and health. Reducing the amount, you drink to low-risk levels doesn’t just protect your heart – it can help you feel healthier and happier all round.
For women, the recommended maximum limit is 11 standard drinks (one standard drink is half a pint) a week. For men, the recommended maximum limit is 17 standard drinks a week.
You can read more about the effects of alcohol on your heart here.
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