IRISH HEART – 06/09/2017


Over the coming months, we’ll be featuring regular blogs from some of the 40+ partner organisations featured on This week’s blog entry comes to you from the National Council for the Blind in Ireland


In Ireland, AMD, (Age Related Macular Degeneration) is the leading cause of sight loss in the over 50’s, with thousands of people living with the condition. The condition is more prevalent as one ages and affects the macula .There are two forms, Wet and Dry, which is the most common form. Most people develop the dry form of AMD. Dry, which is currently untreatable, develops slowly but can lead to loss of central vision. Wet is less common but it can cause rapid sight loss. It can be treated but early diagnosis is vital.

AMD Awareness Week, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary, takes place from the 25th – 30th September with Novartis Testing Units offering free tests. Chris White, CEO NCBI says “NCBI wants to encourage everyone over the age of 50 to take advantage of the free AMD tests taking place this week. The test only takes a couple of minutes and could save your sight. Our nationwide network of NCBI shops will be hosting coffee mornings for AMD Awareness Week to raise its profile amongst the public and to encourage discussion around this very important health initiative. Together we can make the 10th AMD Awareness Week the most successful yet”.

Testing Sites:

Dublin – Tuesday 26th September:

• County Library Tallaght, Library Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24 from 10am – 1pm

• Lexicon Library, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin from 2pm – 6pm

Waterford – Wednesday 27th September:

• Waterford Health Park , Slievekeale Road , Waterford from 10am – 1pm

• Outside Tesco, Ardkeen Shopping Centre, Waterford from 2pm – 6pm

Limerick – Thursday 28th September:

• Castletroy Golf Club, Golf Links Road, Castletroy, Co. Limerick from 10am – 1pm

• Junction of O’Connell Street and Thomas Street, Limerick from 2pm – 6pm

Galway – Wednesday 29th September:

• Ballybane Library, Castlepark Road, Ballybane, Galway from 10am – 1pm

• West Side Shopping Centre, Galway from 2pm – 6pm

Cork – Saturday 30th of September:

• Cork Golf Club, LittleIsland from 10am to 1pm

• Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Link Road, Co. Cork from 2pm to 6pm

As the national sight loss agency the NCBI is there for each person, irrespective of the level of sight loss. 45 year old Leo Hynes from Tuam was diagnosed with Wet AMD a number of years ago. One day when working on one of his much loved Sudoku puzzles, Leo noticed something wrong with his right eye and he knew immediately that it was potentially serious. He takes up the story. “When I moved my eye the curve of the line moved with me and I knew something wasn’t right”.

“I immediately contacted my GP who make an appointment for me to see a Specialist. Tests were done and I was diagnosed with Wet AMD. I was started on a course of injections and was warned not to take part in any sport for 3 months”.

Since then the past 8 years have been a series of ups and downs for Leo. However he says that while he has gone through the whole gamut of emotions, the NCBI has been a constant source of support, advice and vitally, hope.

“I availed of the counselling and the support group, talking is key, nothing seems as bad once it is talked out. It is so important to meet with others in the same situation. I also have picked up tips and suggestions to make life easier, I use the magnifiers and other visual aids and it all helps”.

“Just knowing that I can turn to the NCBI is a source of strength and hope, things would be so much blacker without it”.<-->


Reading this manual can seriously improve your health

Not too long ago, we were unaware of the full extent of men’s poor health and the specific health issues that they face. However, in recent years, a broad range of research has highlighted the health difficulties which confront local lads. This shows that they experience a disproportionate burden of ill-health and die too young …

• Men die, on average, four and a half years younger than women do.
• Males have higher death rates than women for all of the leading causes of death.
• Poor lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases.
• Late presentation to health services leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable …

So, is there any good news? … Well, the simple answer is ‘yes’. As the first country in the world to have a National Men’s Health Policy (which has recently been succeeded by the ‘Healthy Ireland – Men’ Action Plan), Ireland leads the way in international men’s health.

Despite this, evidence clearly shows that there are still many challenges to be faced when seeking to improve the health of men. However, it also highlights that men’s health can be improved in many significant ways – if we make the right choices. Men, themselves, have a key role to play in this process, but they require support, encouragement and opportunities to succeed. Men’s Health Week (MHW) in June each year ( offers an ideal opportunity to kick-start this action.

To support MHW the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland ( produces a free, 32 page Man Manual. This booklet (titled ‘Challenges and Choices’) opens with the statement: ‘WARNING … READING THIS MANUAL CAN SERIOUSLY IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH’. It then goes on to issue a series of simple and practical challenges to improve the reader’s health:

1. Order a soft drink the next time you’re in the pub.
2. Try some fruit or vegetables you’ve never tasted before or think you don’t like.
3. Make at least one journey by foot or bicycle instead of going by car.
4. If you’re under 25 and sexually active, get yourself checked for chlamydia.
5. Stressed out? … Walk away from tense situations before you blow up.
6. Find out about the opening hours at your local GP’s surgery.
7. Get your blood pressure checked within the next two weeks.
8. Get a friend to quit smoking with you – and get advice on how to stop.
9. Show a doctor that lump, strange-shaped mole, or rash that’s bothering you.
10. If you get backache, don’t let it become a pain in the ass. Get it sorted.

Each of these challenges is accompanied by a reason why it is important to take action, a menu of possible choices available, and signposting to sources of help and advice. Most importantly, it provides this information in a straightforward, step-by-step, humorous and commonsense way. After all, it was written by a man in Ireland!

Since it was first produced in 2014, 79,200 hard copies of this publication have been given out to men throughout the island. In these days of ‘e-reader books’, that would probably make it an all-time ‘best seller’ in Easons! To see what it’s all about, download yourself a copy at:


L-R: Tim Collins (Irish Heart CEO), Dr. Angie Brown (Irish Heart Medical Director), Janis Morrissey (Irish Heart Health Promotion Manager), Anna Daly (TV3 presenter) Brendan Courtney (Fashion Designer) and Fergal Fox (HSE)

This September, Irish Heart wants you to strike before stroke as it marks the beginning of a month-long awareness campaign supported by the HSE and focused, for the first time, on stroke prevention among men and women over 40.
Research shows that stroke can strike at any age as 2,000 working age people are now affected annually by the disease in Ireland.

This month, prevention is for you. 60% of over 45s in Ireland have high blood pressure which is a major risk for stroke – start with a check and find out what you can do to avoid stroke.

Stroke is a serious medical emergency mostly associated with older age but the reality is that people of working age are now accounting for one in four of all strokes in Ireland and this is growing rapidly in spite of Ireland’s ageing population.

A stroke happens when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot or narrowing in the artery. This causes a break in the blood supply to part of the brain, denying it essential oxygen and nutrients. This affects how the body works and can damage or destroy brain cells – on average about two million cells every minute.

The good news is that 80% of premature strokes are preventable through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and being active. We’re here to help so don’t miss our free stroke prevention promotional materials and tips on

Our recent survey of our Mobile Health Unit service showed that 2 in 5 men had high blood pressure and that less men than women went to the doctor when advised to do so by our nurses. We would encourage all men in the sheds to avail our free blood pressure check or full health check when in your area and if advised to see your doctor to follow up on this advice.

A blood pressure check is a simple quick and non-invasive test that could prove life-saving. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured in your local pharmacy, with Irish Heart’s free mobile health unit or with your family doctor. The important thing is to do it now. The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 over 80. If your blood pressure is 140 over 90 or higher (or 140 over 80 if you have diabetes) you should discuss this reading with your doctor.

Tips for a healthy Blood Pressure

• Know your blood pressure number
• Aim for a healthy weight
• Eat less salt and processed food
• Eat more fruit and vegetables
• If you drink alcohol, keep within the recommended levels
• Be physically active for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week
• If you smoke, try to stop, contact the national Quitline 1850-201-203
• Have a cholesterol check, eat less fatty foods
• Always take your tablets as advised by your doctor

For information on any aspect of your heart health, speak to our National Heart and Stroke Helpline nurses on 1800 25 25 50 or visit