Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the sons of the late actor and comedian Dermot Morgan are backing a new campaign to encourage greater awareness of the risks of high blood pressure.
The sons of the late Father Ted star, Don, Rob and Ben were ‘scrubbed up’ yesterday to launch the Irish Heart Foundation’s free blood pressure roadshow supported by medical devices’ firm Medtronic.
The roadshow is visiting 45 locations over the coming weeks offering people of all ages a simple five-minute blood pressure check.
The IHF says hundreds of thousands of adults in Ireland are unaware that they have high blood pressure and run the risk of a heart attack or a stroke if the condition is not managed.
“Right now in Ireland, close to 1m adults have the condition but half of them don’t know it,” said IHF medical director Angie Brown.
Mr Kenny said the initiative to highlight cardiovascular disease — the number one cause of death in Ireland — would save lives.
“It is through initiatives like this one that we can continue to raise awareness and provide information on the changes people can make to take better care of their health,” said Mr Kenny.
Dermot Morgan died of a heart attack in 1998 at the age of 45.
Neither he nor his family were aware of the risks of high blood pressure.
Dr Brown said people with high blood pressure were three times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack, compared to those with healthy or controlled blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be managed with lifestyles changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, being active and consuming less salt, fatty foods, and alcohol.
The Institute of Public Health has predicted that by 2020 the number of adults over 45 with high blood pressure in Ireland is expected to increase from 950,000 to 1.2m adults — a 28% increase.
Anyone above the age of 30 is recommended to have a blood pressure check at least once a year or more regularly if there are medical concerns.
Nearly 10,000 people die from cardiovascular disease in Ireland every year.
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