Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Council on Blood Pressure, Dr. Alice Stanton launches Irish Hear

22 September 2006

The focus of the week concerns high blood pressure, and the slogan is; ‘Love your heart, know your blood pressure’ The campaign aims to highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. “From the age of 35, blood pressure should be measured at least every 5 years. Where there is a family history of high blood pressure or of heart attacks or strokes at a young age, it is advisable that measurements start at an even earlier age, late teens or early 20s.”

Irish Heart Week 2006 - September 25th - October 1st.
Focus on blood pressure ‘Love your heart, know your blood pressure’ Half of Irish people do not know what is a normal level of blood pressure Over half of Irish people do not know what is a normal level of blood pressure. This is despite the fact that 53% had their blood pressure checked in the last year and another 17% in the last three years.

“All Irish adults should know their blood pressure and understand how to keep it at a healthy level, whether or not they are being treated for high blood pressure”, according to Dr Alice Stanton, Chairperson of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Council on Blood Pressure, announcing the results of a survey on attitudes to blood pressure for Irish Heart week 2006.


Anne Scanlon of the Irish Heart Foundation at the launch with Fair citiy's Tom Hopkins and Adi Roche

Only 33% of people interviewed by Lansdowne Market Research knew that a reading of 120 over 80 describes a normal level of blood pressure”. Irish Heart Week aims to highlight the importance of keeping a healthy blood pressure with the theme “Love your heart, know your blood pressure”. “A key message for the week is to encourage those aged over 35 to have a blood pressure check in the near future, as a first step in reducing risk of heart problems now or later. As we get older our risk of having high blood pressure increases, and hence blood pressure should be checked at least every 5 years”, said Dr Stanton.

“High blood pressure rarely causes any signs or symptoms until damage to blood vessels is well advanced. Unfortunately the first obvious sign may be a heart attack. The only way to check out this risk and is to actually measure blood pressure. It was very encouraging to note that over two thirds had had their blood pressure checked by their doctor. He or she is the best person to diagnose, and together with the patient, to manage high blood pressure - most likely with lifestyle changes, and in many cases medication.” said Dr Stanton. Dr Brian Maurer, Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation, said that “encouragingly the survey showed a high knowledge of risk of heart attack and stroke arising from high blood pressure and a high level of knowledge of factors related to high blood pressure - being overweight; salt intake; physical inactivity; fruit and vegetable and alcohol consumption”.

However this awareness needs to translate into more positive changes at individual level. Half the population aged over 50 have high blood pressure, and just over one third know about it and are being treated for it. Untreated high blood pressure is a major risk for cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in Ireland.