High blood pressure most commonly reported condition

By June Shannon Heart News   |   24th Oct 2018

Healthy Ireland Survey 2018 – older adults more likely to have blood pressure measured

More than half or 66 per cent of adults reported that they had their blood pressure measured in the past 12 months, according to the latest Healthy Ireland Survey.

The survey of more than 7,500 people aged 15 and over living in Ireland, found that older adults were more likely to report that they had their blood pressure measured, with 51 per cent of those aged between 15 and 34, and 95 per cent of those aged 75 and older reported to having had their blood pressure measured in the past 12 months.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and the biggest risk factor for stroke.

The findings also revealed that the prevalence of smoking has dropped from 23 per cent in 2015 to 20 per cent in 2018 which means there are now an estimated 80,000 fewer smokers than there were three years ago.  New plain packaging with health warnings was cited by 23 per cent of smokers as a good motivation to quit. In the last 12 months 40 per cent of smokers said they had tried to quit.

Alcohol consumption figures for 2018 revealed that a worrying 37 per cent of the population binge drink i.e. consume six or more standard units in one drinking occasion.

For the first time the Healthy Ireland Survey 2018 looked at health inequalities. It found that in deprived areas, 26 per cent smoke, 43 per cent binge drink, and 33 per cent have long standing illnesses compared to those in more affluent areas where 16 per cent smoke, 33 per cent binge drink, and 24 per cent have long standing illnesses.

“It’s important to know that people are following up with their GP if they have high blood pressure to ensure it is being adequately managed.”

Marese Damery, Health Check Manager, Irish Heart Foundation

In relation to long standing or chronic illnesses, those surveyed were asked about 25 specific health conditions. High blood pressure at 12 per cent was the condition most commonly reported followed by arthritis (10%), high cholesterol (9%), asthma (8%) and depression/anxiety (6%). Older people; those aged 75 and older were more likely to report having at least one of the specific health conditions at 82 per cent, compared to 20 per cent of those aged 15 to 24.

Commenting on the findings Marese Damery, Health Check Manager, Irish Heart Foundation said , “the only way to know you have high blood pressure is to have it checked and while it’s positive to see 66% have had their blood pressure measured during the past 12 months, it’s important to know that people are following up with their GP if they have high blood pressure to ensure it is being adequately managed.”

“We know from recent studies that nearly 1 million people over the age of 50 years in Ireland have high blood pressure and yet 41 per cent of people living with high blood pressure are not taking adequate medication. High Blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and, significantly, it is the biggest risk factor for stroke.”

“It is very concerning to read that 33 per cent of the people in the healthy Ireland survey binge drink, drinking less alcohol is just one of the ways you can reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Eighty per cent of premature cardiovascular disease is caused by adverse lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, a lack of physical activity, and harmful alcohol use. These risk factors also contribute to high blood pressure but by making positive changes to these lifestyle factors, people can reduce their risk of high blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.”

The Healthy Ireland Survey 2018 contains data on a representative sample of 7,701 people aged 15 and older living in Ireland who were interviewed between September 2017 and June 2018.

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alcohol blood pressure cholesterol heart disease high blood pressure hypertension smoking stroke

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