Consultant cardiologist at the Mater Private Hospital in Cork, Dr Ronan Margey, said that the incidence of the disease continues to grow because of the county’s ageing population.
Dr Margey presented the first of a series of cardiology master classes to GPs from Cork and Kerry in Killarney, Co Kerry, yesterday.
He told them that there is a substantial and growing number of patients living with cardiovascular disease.
“Despite marvellous improvements in heart disease mortality over the last 30 years — mostly shaped through improved preventative care at primary care level — cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of mortality in Irish society,” he said.
Dr Margey is one of four consultants from the Mater Private Cork to lead master classes over the coming weeks.
They will cover several themes around the structural heart, rhythm management, and coronary artery disease.
The master classes will update primary care physicians on latest developments in cardiovascular science, focusing on diagnosis, prognosis, and the latest in cardiovascular drug therapeutics and interventions.
The remaining three master classes will take place at Randles Hotel, Killarney on Thursday and on March 2 and 9 at 7pm.
Meanwhile, scientists have found that heavy drinking increases the risk of heart disease by ageing the arteries.
They looked at the link between arterial stiffness, a significant indicator of cardiovascular health and alcohol consumption over time.
A stiffness of the arteries occurs when the walls of the blood vessels lack elasticity, which can negatively impact the artery’s response to variations in blood pressure.
The longitudinal study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, followed almost 4,000 British civil servants over a 25-year period with ages ranging from 30 to 60.
The researchers found that heavy drinking increases the cardiovascular risk, especially in men.
However, the exact way that alcohol causes arteries to lose elasticity remains unknown said the study’s lead author, Darragh O’Neill, an epidemiological researcher at University College London.
Dr O’Neill said it had been suggested that alcohol may increase the good cholesterol, or decrease platelet stickiness.
“Conversely, heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn, exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening.”
For healthy men, drinking more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week and for healthy women having more than three per day or seven per week, fall under the category of ‘heavy drinking’.
According to the study, former male drinkers were also at risk as compared to moderate drinkers who were in early old age.
Dr O’Neill and his team want to further investigate the relationship between alcohol and other markers of cardiovascular health.