Almost 300 Westmeath people avail of free blood pressure checks

New figures from Irish Heart’s Mobile Health Unit service show that a total of 292 people from Westmeath have availed of its free blood pressure checks during its first full year of operation.

This figure is made up of 98 men and 194 women who attended the unit – which is supported by Bank of Ireland and Medtronic – when it visited the county.

Officially marking its first anniversary, Irish Heart is taking the opportunity to appeal to men, in particular, to get checked for high blood pressure. The plea follows findings from a national sample survey of attendees which showed a greater prevalence of high blood pressure in men – the silent risk factor for stroke and heart attack.

In the survey of 268 attendees nationally, 41 per cent of participants were found to have high blood pressure, with half of the men surveyed having high blood pressure, compared with just one third of women.

The sample survey also found that of those participants who had their blood pressure checked and who were then advised by Irish Heart Nurses to follow up with their GP, men were more reluctant to visit their GP compared with women. Of those in this grouping who responded to a follow-up call at six weeks, only 42 per cent of men reported having gone to their GP compared with 54 per cent of women.

Marese Damery, health check manager with Irish Heart, said: “What this evaluation has highlighted is that men are more likely than women to have high blood pressure and even when advised to visit a GP, men are less likely to act on that advice. This is a continuing challenge for those of us who work in the health arena and especially when dealing with a silent risk factor like blood pressure, where a person can feel fine and not know that they have a problem.”

For details of Irish Heart’s mobile health unit current locations, visit www.irishheart.ie To speak in confidence with trained specialist nurses for expert one-to-one advice and support, call the National Heart & Stroke Helpline on Freefone 1800 252550 between Monday and Friday, 9am to 5pm, or on Thursday until 7pm. Alternatively, email [email protected].

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