Heart disease a worry for Irish adults as they age

By June Shannon Heart News   |   26th Jun 2019

2019 Pfizer Health and Science Index reveals almost half of Irish adults worry about developing heart disease

Heart disease is one of the main illnesses people are most concerned about developing as they age; the 2019 Pfizer Health and Science Index has found.

Launched earlier this week, the annual Pfizer Index is a nationally representative study of health, science and wellness which looks at the perceptions, behaviours and attitudes of Irish adults to their health and wellbeing.

As part of the online survey of more than 1,000 adults, people were asked which of a list of illnesses if any, there were concerned about developing as they aged.  Alzheimer’s Disease was the condition that most worried adults with 52 per cent citing it as the illness of most concern however, heart disease came a close second, identified as a concern by almost half or 40 per cent of those surveyed.

The majority of people surveyed (63 per cent) rated their health as 7 out of 10 or higher, with only 4 per cent of those giving their health a score of 10 out of 10.

High cholesterol, which like high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, was the third most common health condition reported.

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The 2019 Pfizer Index revealed that three in five or 60 per cent of people said they suffered with a significant health condition, with high/low blood pressure being the most commonly reported condition. Overall one in five or 20 per cent of those surveyed reported to have high/low blood pressure, a slight increase on 19 per cent reported in the 2018 index.

Depression and anxiety were the second most commonly reported health conditions with 16 per cent of adults reporting to suffer from these, while high cholesterol, which like high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, was the third most common reported health condition, reported by 15 per cent of the public.

Asked about the measures they were taking to ensure better health in later life, diet and exercise were the top two steps that most adults took to improve their health with more than 7 in 10 mentioning one or both. Sleep also featured prominently with almost 3 in 5 or 58 per cent claiming they have taken steps in this area.

Now in its 14th year, the Pfizer Health and Science Index findings are based on online interviews with 1,035 Irish adults, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes Research company between April 4th and 25th 2019. For the first time, the Index broadened its scope to include gauging the public’s perception of science and specifically its perceived role in healthcare.

According to the index, 80 per cent of people think that scientific advancement fosters a better society and two-thirds or 66 per cent related science and advancement to medicine.

More than half or 61 per cent of those surveyed said lifestyle changes were more important factors in reducing the impact of illness and disease, with scientific interventions such as innovative medicines and diagnostics ranked lower by the public.

" We know that 80 per cent of heart disease and stroke is preventable through lifestyle changes,”

Marese Damery, Health Check Manager, Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Marese Damery, Health Check Manager with the Irish Heart Foundation, said that much of the research in the past 10 years has shown that high blood pressure is on the increase.

“The Irish Heart Foundation recommends that everyone over the age of 30 in Ireland has their blood pressure checked at least once a year or more often if they have a known family history of heart disease. High blood pressure is a major cause of stroke and heart attack, if high blood pressure is identified through a health check, it is very manageable through lifestyle changes and or medication if needed.

“It is very positive from the Pfizer Health and Science Index 2019 that 61 per cent of people feel that lifestyle changes are important factors in reducing the impact of illness and disease as we know that 80 per cent of heart disease and stroke is preventable through lifestyle changes,” she said.

A blood pressure is a simple quick and non-invasive test that could prove lifesaving.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Health Unit travels the country providing free blood pressure checks. To find out when the MHU will be in a location near you please see here.

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blood pressure cholesterol heart disease high blood pressure high cholesterol Pfizer Health and Science Index stroke

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