Travellers encouraged to get checked as part of national heart health campaign

September is National Heart Month, and to mark the event the Irish Heart Foundation is holding a national blood pressure roadshow offering free blood pressure checks to community groups, the public, and Traveller organisations including the Galway Traveller Movement.

The free blood pressure checks in Galway will be open to everyone and the roadshow will be in the Aldi/SuperValu car park in Loughrea on Wednesday September 26, and the Lidl/Argos car park on the Headford road in Galway on Thursday September 27. The roadshow will take place from 10am to 6pm on both days.

The Irish Heart Foundation is this month highlighting the fact that the only way to know you have high blood pressure is to get it checked. According to the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, 60 per cent of adults over 45 have high blood pressure and, of those, half of them do not know it.

The foundation stressed that high blood pressure is a silent killer with no symptoms, silently causing damage to blood vessels which can later lead to heart attack, stroke, and heart or kidney failure. The charity’s blood pressure mobile roadshow will offer free blood pressure checks at more than 50 locations nationwide including selected Lidl stores.

“High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for all adults and our charity recommends getting checked for this silent condition from the age of 30,” said Maureen Mulvihill, health promotion manager with the Irish Heart Foundation. “As part of our blood pressure roadshow, the Irish Heart Foundation is delighted to bring our free checks to the Galway Traveller Movement. The All Ireland Traveller Health Study (2010 ) showed that the majority of deaths among Travellers can be attributed to heart disease and stroke and at much younger ages compared to the general population.”

In addition to getting a blood pressure check, the Irish Heart Foundation has launched a new blood pressure leaflet which gives practical advice on what to do if you have the condition. Top tips include:

• Always take your medication, if prescribed.

• Aim for a healthy weight.

• Eat more fruit and vegetables.

• Eat less salt and less fatty and processed foods.

• Drink less alcohol.

• Be more active, at least 30 minutes on five days a week.

• Get a regular BP check and follow your doctor’s advice.

Traveller community health projects throughout the country are undertaking heart health awareness initiatives with the Traveller Community.

For a free blood pressure leaflet or for general health advice, talk to an Irish Heart Foundation nurse in confidence on the National Heart and Stroke Helpline 1890 432 787. To learn more about free blood pressure checks, visit www.irishheart.ie

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