The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has warned that nearly one million adults in Ireland are at increased risk of heart attack and stroke due to high blood pressure and half of them do not know it.  High blood pressure is a serious but manageable risk factor for stroke, yet half of adults over 50 with the condition remain unaware and untreated.

The national charity fighting stroke and heart disease, together with Covidien, a leading global provider of innovative medical technology solutions and patient care products, is providing FREE blood pressure checks to the people of Donegal. The blood pressure checks are part of a nationwide roadshow to detect this silent condition and help reduce the risk of stroke, a condition which can cause extreme disability or even death.

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation said:  “High blood pressure often has no symptoms so that a person can feel fine and look fine but on the inside, silent damage is happening to blood vessels, which can lead to serious health problems such as stroke. One in five people will have a stroke in their lifetime and people with uncontrolled high blood pressure are three times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack compared to people with healthy or controlled blood pressure. In fact 80% of strokes are caused by five factors – high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity.

“The good news is that a simple five-minute check is all it takes to detect high blood pressure, which can then be effectively managed through lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, being active and consuming less salt,  fatty foods and alcohol. In some cases doctors will recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medication to manage blood pressure and protect against strokes.”

Donal Balfe, Vice President of Manufacturing, Respiratory and Monitoring Solutions, Covidien, said:  “Life can be hectic and often, it is easy to push our health to the bottom of our list of priorities. But being aware of our blood pressure and keeping it at a healthy level is too important to ignore. That is why Covidien has partnered with the Irish Heart Foundation to bring free blood pressure checks to as many people as possible around the country this September and October. By encouraging more people to know their blood pressure, we can help them live longer, healthier lives.”

The Donegal blood pressure checks will take place as follows:

Monday 13th October, 2.00pm – 6.00pm, An Grainer Theatre carpark, Letterkenny
Tuesday 14th October, 2.00pm – 6.00pm, Letterkenny Shopping Centre, Letterkenny
Currently in Ireland about 10,000 strokes happen annually and in Donegal, 98 people died from stroke last year which is equivalent to more than one death every week.

Figures from the Institute of Public Health expect the prevalence of stroke to rise by a staggering 48% in just six years’ time by 2020 with a concurrent rise by 50% in the incidence of heart attack.

Additionally by 2020, the number of adults aged over 45 years with high blood pressure is expected to rise from 950,000 people affected in Ireland to 1.2 million adults, representing a 28% increase.

Tips to lower your blood pressure 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, get at least 30 minutes of exercise on 5 days a week
Get a regular blood pressure check and follow your doctor’s advice
The Irish Heart Foundation’s FREE Blood Pressure Roadshow supported by Covidien will visit more than 50 locations nationwide during September and October  delivering blood pressure checks and advice to the public.

To find out about a FREE blood pressure check near you, visit www.irishheart.ie.

Or for a free blood pressure leaflet or general health advice, talk to an Irish Heart Foundation nurse in confidence on the National Heart & Stroke Helpline Locall 1890 432 787.

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