Recent research showed that 80% of farmers have four or more risk factors such as: family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight. To raise awareness about farmers’ heart health and to reduce their risks, the IFA has joined forces with the Farmers Have Hearts initiative as led by Irish Heart.
Funded by the HSE, Farmers Have Hearts provides free health checks by Irish Heart nurses to farmers at marts. And since 2013, over 2,800 farmers have been checked with 72% advised to see their GP. The IFA has committed to increasing awareness of heart disease and stroke among farmers by extending more free health checks and information sessions to IFA Executive Committees around the country.
IFA President Joe Healy has strongly urged farmers to get their health checked, “Often farmers can take a stand-back attitude to their health, and are reluctant to see a doctor even if they have a particular concern.”
Our message is that having a health check will either put your mind at ease, or set you on the right course to improve your health and lifestyle – either way, getting a check-up is smart thing to do.
Maureen Mulvihill, Head of Health Promotion in the Irish heart, said:
“Farmers are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), despite a common perception that they live healthy, active lives. Farmers Have Hearts has shown that the most prevalent risk for CVD among male farmers is overweight or obesity at 86% and 82% had a family history of heart disease.”
Ms Mulvihill added that: “Our research showed that only 32% of those who were advised to see their GP did so, and we are delighted that IFA is lending their support to help farmers realise that preventing a heart attack or stroke by identifying risk factors is a positive step.
For example, high blood pressure or high cholesterol can be managed very successfully working with the family doctor and can prevent serious heart problems developing in the future, which could impact on ability to work and livelihood.”
As part of Farmers Have Hearts, research with 310 farmers showed that 79% of those checked in the marts were advised to follow up with a GP visit. One-third of these farmers did see a GP within 12 weeks and almost half of those found to be at risk made changes to their lifestyle following the health check, such as increasing physical activity or changing their diet. On a positive note, nearly half of those who took part would not have had a health check otherwise.
The IFA/Irish Heart Health Checks are taking place in 12 venues around the country and can be booked through local IFA offices.
A health check can pick up risk factors and signs for concern. It takes just 30 minutes, and involves very little preparation. Results are provided straight away and the nurse or doctor will advise you on a one-to-one basis any steps you need to do to reduce heart health risk.
What does the health check involve?
The health checks address the main risk factors associated with circulatory diseases such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, smoking, consumption of alcohol and physical activity. The check also includes a blood pressure check, cholesterol and glucose check, weight measurement, carbon monoxide check (for smokers) and overall individual assessment. Each attendee will receive a personal record of all tests and a personal lifestyle plan following the health check.
To increase awareness of heart health among farmers in general, Irish Heart is also providing information to farmers at IFA events in each county. We’ll cover topics like knowing your risks, tips for a healthy lifestyle, and tips for healthier eating.
To get a free health check, check our website for upcoming marts that we are attending. Or you can also call our National Heart & Stroke Helpline to know more or if you have any concerns about your health.
Ways To Live Life Better – view our range of articles to help you to reduce your risk factors on topics such as alcohol to being active, blood pressure, healthy eating and more.
Heart & Stroke Conditions Explained A to Z – take a moment to read our articles that cover the symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the most common heart conditions.