Heart disease a real concern for people as they age

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   3rd Nov 2021

The Irish Heart Foundation urges the public to address any symptoms with their GP

The 2021 Pfizer Health Index has shown that 40 per cent of people surveyed were concerned about developing heart disease in the future.

The research, which was published today (Wednesday 03 November), revealed that people are anxious about their long-term health and the prospect of developing a variety of serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Of those who stated they were concerned about developing cancer in the future (50%), some 21% of respondents (41% of women) said they were concerned about getting breast cancer, 18% had concerns about contracting cervical cancer (35% of women) and 39% were concerned about all other forms of cancer.

The Pfizer Index shows that respondents had similar concerns about getting other diseases, with 40 per cent concerned about heart disease; 37 per cent worried about developing Alzheimer’s and over one-quarter of those surveyed (28%) responding that they have concerns about developing depression later in life.

The research found that 43 per cent of people believe they experienced a negative health implication of the pandemic

.

The Index also revealed that one in five people (21%) are worried that they could have missed out on a diagnosis and treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic with approximately 50 per cent either cancelling or missing scheduled appointments.

The 2021 Pfizer Health Index found that appointments cancelled by hospitals were higher among older age-groups with 28 per cent of over 65s having a hospital appointment cancelled compared with 16 per cent of 25-34 year-olds. Meanwhile, one in ten (11%) adults did not seek treatment despite feeling unwell during this period.

The annual Pfizer Health & Science Index also revealed that people were less worried about visiting the hospital in 2021 compared with last year with almost one-fifth (18%) stating that they were very or quite worried and would not visit a hospital – a nine-point drop compared to 27 per cent in 2020. Similarly, just 16 per cent of people are very or quite worried and would not visit their GP.

The research also found that 43 per cent of people believe that they experienced a negative health implication of the pandemic with mental health, diet and weight and a lack of exercise being the most common.

" People should feel confident that it is safe to visit their GP or clinician in person,"

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, The Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting on the findings, Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation said, “The research found that four in 10 respondents are worried that they’ll develop heart disease later in life. The Irish Heart Foundation would stress that up to 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease is preventable and that by actions such as controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking we can all minimise our risk of heart disease and stroke.

“The Foundation would also urge anyone who is worried about a missed diagnosis to make that appointment that they have been putting off today and not wait until it’s too late. In addition to phone and online consultations, people should feel confident that it is safe to visit their GP or clinician in person. This is especially important if you are experiencing symptoms or have pre-existing heart conditions,” he added.

Paul Reid, Managing Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland said; “It’s clear from the research that people have put off going to their doctor and it is really important that anyone with an ongoing health issue visits their GP to seek help. It is understandable that people are worried about having a stroke or getting cancer, however scientific advancement and health outcomes are getting better, and with early diagnosis and access to treatments patients have a better chance of a positive outcome.”

Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy and External Affairs, the Irish Cancer Society, added; “COVID-19 has presented many health system challenges which have made it more difficult for the public to access non-Covid care. This year’s research reveals that the public is concerned that this may have impacted their health. The findings underscore the importance that if anyone is worried about missing an appointment or if they have not sought medical advice yet, to make an appointment with their GP or clinician as soon as possible.

“It’s so important for anyone who is concerned about their health generally or who feels they may have neglected a lump or a mole to reach out for a referral. When it comes to cancer, early detection, and early intervention is proven to save lives. It’s vital to seek medical attention quickly if a potential symptom is identified.”

The 2021 Pfizer Health & Science Index is a nationally representative sample of 1,052 adults, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes Research company. Fieldwork was completed between 19th August and 8th September 2021, with all interviews conducted online.

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