We all already know that being overweight is not good for our bodies. Taking the step from knowing that and doing something about it, is where we usually fall down.
A large percentage of cancers are now known to be caused by overweight, obesity and inactivity. Carrying excess weight increases the risk of over 10 different types of cancer. The risk is particularity high in people who carry excess weight on their abdomen (belly). The fat present here is called visceral fat. It surrounds our gut and is actually very metabolically active. It pumps out hormones and chemicals which can actually promote cancer growth and dramatically increase your risk of getting cancer.
But there was good news too, well certainly empowering news anyway. And that is that just a 10% weight loss would see these dangerous hormones/chemical levels decrease immediately. The dangerous bad fat goes first, so even when you can’t immediately see it on the scales, or in your trousers, you know it’s worth sticking with because you are taking a huge step to decreasing your cancer risk.
The evidence doesn’t lie – there is a proven link between body fatness, inactivity and certain cancers. Being overweight and inactive accounts for 1/4 to 1/3 of worldwide cases of colon, kidney, oesophageal, breast and endometrial cancer (WHO IARC, 2013).
So the data is clear, it is time to tackle that belly (visceral) fat and good nutrition and more physical activity is the way to go. Visceral fat is a highly active metabolic organ secreting a vast array of hormones and growth factors involved in insulin resistance, appetite control and systemic inflammation. This inflammation can lead to cancer but we can do something about it. It’s not just sitting there to annoy us, but in a way its poisoning our system and therefore we should do something about it.
It can all sound a bit scary at first but ultimately this information is empowering. Knowing that just 10% weight loss could have an enormous impact and the bad fat goes first was, can be motivating.
It means we can do something for our own health and there is not reason not to start today!
Over 18,000 Irish men are currently living with dementia
As part of its Sheds for Life initiative, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association has partnered with the HSE’s Dementia: Understand Together campaign to dispel some of the myths around both Alzheimer’s disease and the broader issue of dementia. It’s an issue that touches many shedders, whether through direct personal experience or the experiences of loved ones.
While two-thirds of Irish people with dementia are women, over 18,000 Irish men are currently living with dementia. Some of this disparity can be explained by the simple fact that women live longer than men, and dementia becomes more common as we age. However, recent studies suggest that dementia can manifest differently in men than in women, particularly in its effect on memory.
Dementia is an umbrella term to describe a set of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly. Although Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, the term encompasses at least 400 distinct conditions. Dementia often develops slowly, over the course of serveral years. One of the earliest signs is usually having trouble remembering recent events.
Although, dementia usually affects people as they get older, it is by no means a “normal” or inevitable part of ageing. In fact, nine out of ten older people don’t develop dementia. A lot of people mature into their 80s and 90s without any major memory decline.
While, at its earliest stages, dementia can be confused with regular, age-related forgetfulness, its effects on memory are more pronounced. It can progress from struggling with everyday tasks to having difficulty dressing, bathing, walking or recognising family members and other familiar faces. However, it’s important to stress that every case of dementia is different, and no two men will experience exactly the same symptoms.
Although dementia is more common in people over 65, younger people can also develop dementia. This is known as early or younger onset dementia. Most of those affected by early onset dementia are in their 40s or 50s; family history and genetics may play a role in this.
So how can Irish men reduce their risk? A growing body of evidence suggests that a healthy, active lifestyle can help maintain good brain health. Simply following good lifestyle habits can reduce your risk of dementia; regular exercise, eating healthily, controlling high blood pressure, cutting down on alchol and cutting out cigarettes can all make a difference.
As every shedder knows, an active mind is a huge asset when it comes to maintaining our wellbeing, particularly as we age. Keeping active and alert by meeting new people and trying new things can also potentially lower your risk of dementia.
Dementia: Understand Together is a public support, awareness and information campaign, led by the HSE, working with The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Genio, that aims to inspire people from all sections of society to stand together with the 500,000 Irish people whose families have been affected by dementia. For more information on dementia, and the services and supports available, Freephone 1800 341 341 or visit www.understandtogether.ie. And remember, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association’s website Malehealth.ie can also help you find out more about dementia and related conditions. Simply visit www.malehealth.ie and navigate to the Head section.
– Findings from the Mechanic study.
Aoife Mc Namara, Irish Cancer Society.
Over 10,000 Irish men are diagnosed with cancer each year. (1) In 2013, the Irish Cancer Society commissioned a report looking at men and cancer (2). The report noted that there was a big difference between the number of men and women surviving and dying from cancer. The report also noted that there was a clear need to target Irish men separately on the impact of cancer. It called for more male-specific awareness, programmes and research.
The Irish Cancer Society provides a number of services for people affected by cancer, however we know that the majority of the users of these services are women.
At the same time the OECD Adult Skills Survey shows that 17.9% or about 1 in 6, Irish adults are at or below level 1 on a five level literacy scale. While there was no statistical difference between men and women, adults aged 55 – 65 have the lowest mean score (3). This research also shows that 1 in 4 Irish adults score at or below level 1 for numeracy, which means 1 out of every 4 people in Ireland find it difficult to do the simple maths calculations involved in everyday life, e.g. compare unit costs for items or services. Literacy and numeracy have a direct impact on employment, career opportunities and progression. But they also have huge implications for people’s health and wellbeing.
Considering the joint findings of these reports; the Society and the National Adult Literacy Agency decided to undertake research that focused on how the Irish Cancer Society can create cancer prevention information that best suits Irish men and to identify how men would like to receive information on cancer and cancer prevention in the future.
The study found that approximately one-third of those with low health literacy often needed someone to help them to read hospital materials, often had difficulty learning about their medical condition because of difficulty understanding written information, and often needed someone to help them understand health information. Men with low health literacy were significantly more likely to worry a lot about cancer and to feel uncomfortable thinking about cancer than those with high health literacy.
The main barriers to men finding cancer prevention information were that men were mainly passive information seekers, they came across information but didn’t normally actively look for it. There were lots of societal, practical and emotional barriers stopping men from accessing cancer prevention information. These barriers were bigger for men with low literacy levels. But there were also some things that made it easier for men to access cancer prevention information and these included location. Men with low literacy levels like to access health information from their GPs, whereas men with high literacy levels like to access health information online.
There were also a lot of recommendations on how men like information to presented, these included using plain English, plenty of visuals and infographics, positive messaging and use of humour. The findings of the Mechanic study were launched to coincide with Men’s Health Week 2017 and will be used by the Irish Cancer Society to make more Irish men aware of the impact of cancer. For more information, check out https://www.cancer.ie/reduce-your-risk/mens-health
- National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI, 2015) Cancer Factsheet Overview & most common cancers. Available at http://www.ncri.ie/sites/ncri/files/factsheets/FACTSHEET_all%20cancers.pdf (Accessed 06/05/2015)
- Irish Cancer Society (2013) Report on the excess burden of cancer among men in the Republic of Ireland (full report). Available at http://www.ncri.ie/publications/research-reports/report-excess-burden-cancer-among-men-republic-ireland (Accessed 06/05/2015)
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2013) OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills. Available at http://skills.oecd.org/OECD_Skills_Outlook_2013.pdf (Accessed 06/05/2015)
Let’s Get Walking
Walking is the oldest and most natural form of physical activity. It is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It can be done anywhere, anytime and it’s free. Regular walking has been shown to be of benefit to your physical, psychological and social health. Regular walking can:
Keep your body fit and active and increase your energy levels,
Keep your heart healthy and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as reducing your risk of other illnesses such as diabetes and some cancers,
Develop healthier bones and joints
Reduce your stress levels and help you sleep better,
Help you control your weight,
Help you feel good and improve your mood.
If you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis or have any symptoms such as chest pain or pressure, dizziness- talk to your doctor for advice on how to manage your condition while getting active.
For health benefits adults need to be active at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes a day on 5 days of the week or accumulate a total of 150 minutes of activity a week. This can be made up in smaller bouts of at least 10 minutes in duration. Use this as a target and gradually increase your walking over a few weeks.
Walking at any pace can be beneficial. When starting to walk do so at a pace that you can manage. Aim to set a pace that slightly raises your heartbeat, makes you breathe a little faster and feel a little warmer.
Some ideas to help you get walking.
Park a distance away from the shops, work or your shed and walk the rest of the way, or better still leave the car at home.
Get off the bus one or two stops before your destination and walk the rest of the way.
Go for a walk with family, friends or neighbours.
Or you could join a walking group (check out the listing of groups on www.getirelandwalking.ie) or start a walking group in your shed or your area.
Recent research confirms that many men in Ireland are still unaware of common cancer risks, wrongly believing that the disease can be caused by laptops, injury and tight underwear.
The survey, carried out amongst a sample of 913 men by Breakthrough Cancer Research and researchers at University College Cork, found that while most men surveyed were aware of classic cancer risk factors, such as smoking and poor diet, there are still a lot of misconceptions that must to be tackled:
- Alcohol IS a Cancer Risk Factor
Irish men still seem to underestimate alcohol as a risk factor in developing cancer, with 66% incorrectly believing that red wine protects against cancer. Decreasing your cancer intake can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
- Tight Underwear DOES NOT Cause Cancer
45% to 52% of Irish men believed that wearing tight underwear, carrying mobile phones in pockets or extended use of laptop on the lap increased their risk of testicular cancer. None of these cause cancer.
- Supplements DO NOT Protect Against Cancer
44% of men surveyed believing supplements would protect against cancer. They do not provide any protection against cancer.
- Physical Activity DOES Lower your Cancer Risk
95% correctly identified regular activity as a protective factor, yet less than half of respondents believed obesity is a risk factor. At least 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
- Obesity is a Cancer Risk Factor
Only 48% of men who responded were aware that obesity is a risk factor, with 12 % believing that the worst effect of too much fat in the body is that clothes do not fit properly.
The results of this recent research show that there remains a need for men to become more cancer curious and arm themselves with the information they need to lower their cancer risk. The good news is that, as proven by the World Cancer Research Fund, small changes in our lifestyle can make a big difference to our cancer risk, with 30% – 40% of cancers preventable through lifestyle. And most importantly these changes are within our control.
So what’s stopping you lowering your cancer risk today?
Persistent Poor Awareness of Risk Factors for Cancer in Irish Adult Males: Results of a Large Survey
Aoife Ryan1, Orla Dolan2, Sharon O’Regan1, Jessica Horgan1, Derek Power3
1 School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
2 Cork Cancer research Centre, University College Cork
3 Department of Medical Oncology, Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland
WORLD SIGHT DAY – THURSDAY OCTOBER 12th 2017
Fighting Blindness urge you to mind your eyes!
World Sight Day takes place this year on October 12, and Fighting Blindness is encouraging people to consider their eye health. No matter what your level of vision, it is vital to protect whatever sight you do have. Below are some helpful tips that can help:
Your eye is a complex organ that needs oxygen to survive; smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, so less oxygen reaches the eye. This causes oxidative stress and damages the retina and also causes cell death to retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. Smoking is a risk factor for developing AMD and diabetic retinopathy.
Eat the Right Food
Some foods can help protect against certain eye conditions; like cataracts and AMD due to the specific nutrients they contain. These nutrients are found in many fruits and vegetables including mango, squash, broccoli, green beans, and spinach.
Regular Eye Tests
It is recommended that people have an eye test every two years. A regular eye test can identify any early indications of diseases, some of which are treatable if caught early. A regular eye test can identify any early indications of diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). An eye test can also identify other problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure for which the optometrist can refer you back to a GP.
UV light from the sun’s rays can cause damage to your eyes. To reduce risks always wear sunglasses when in the sun. Check your shades have a UV factor rating and block 100 per cent of UV rays. Your sunglasses should carry the CE mark, which indicates that they meet European safety standards.
Regular screen breaks
If you use a computer or mobile device, take frequent breaks from your screen – at least oncee an hour. Resting your eyes can help avoid headaches, eyestrain, soreness and double vision.
Know your Family Eye History
Many conditions causing sight loss are hereditary, it is important that if there is a history of sight loss in your family, you get assessed and checked. If you are clinically diagnosed with a genetic retinal condition you can have a genetic test through Target 5000 to try and establish the gene or genes responsible. For more information about Target 5000 visit www.FightingBlindness.ie or to register your interest, telephone 01 6789 004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fighting Blindness is an Irish patient-led charity working to cure, support and empower people affected by sight loss. For more information about Fighting Blindness events and services, please call 01 6789 004 or visit www.FightingBlindness.ie.
*If you are worried about your eye health, we strongly advise that you discuss all concerns and potential treatments with your doctor.
About Fighting Blindness
Fighting Blindness is an Irish patient-led charity working to cure blindness, support people experiencing sight loss and empower patients. It does this by:
- Funding and enabling world-leading research into treatments and cures for blindness. Since 1983, Fighting Blindness has invested over €17 million in more than 90 research projects, with a particular focus on genes and gene therapy, cell technology and regenerative medicine, retinal implant technology, novel drug therapy and population studies
- Providing professional counselling through its Insight Counselling Service for people and families affected by sight loss
- Undertaking extensive activity in the area of advocacy and patient empowerment, and, specifically, for equitable access to existing treatments, novel therapies and appropriate care
Alcohol and Your Physical and Mental Health
In Ireland, we consider alcohol part of our culture, a way to relax and reward ourselves. So do we ever stop to think whether our drinking is having a negative impact on our bodies and minds?
Alcohol can interfere with your sleep, contribute to feelings of low mood and anxiety, affect fitness and fertility, and increase your risk of developing cancer.
Even drinking a little bit less can help you to feel better, physically and mentally. It can also help you to keep a healthy relationship with alcohol, and avoid problems in the future.
Is too much less than you think?
The truth is, the less you drink, the better it is for your health and wellbeing.
However, staying within the low-risk guidelines can help you to reduce the risk of alcohol related disease and illness. The low risk guideline for men (aged 18-65) is 17 standard drinks or less a week.Try to have at least two to three alcohol free days a week and spread your drinks over the week. Drinking more than six standard drinks at a time significantly increases the risks to your health and wellbeing. Spacing and pacing your drinking will also help you to avoid building tolerance to alcohol and forming a habit.
So what is a standard drink?
What exactly is to gain?
1: Improved Mental Health: You might think a few drinks helps you to cope with your problems but alcohol is a depressant. It can often make a bad mood worse and make it even harder to cope with day-to-day stresses. Sticking to the low-risk guidelines is good for your mood and mental health.
2: Improved Fitness: Alcohol affects sports performance and muscle build-up and makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Three pints of beer actually gives you an additional 545 additional calories – the same amount of calories as two burgers. So cutting back will make those fitness goals easier to reach.
3: Improved Sexual Performance: Heavy drinking can reduce a mans sperm count, and sex drive. If you’re in a relationship or trying for a baby, drinking less can improve your sex life and chances of conceiving.
4: Heart Health: Drinking can increase your blood pressure which can lead to strokes and diseases of the heart muscle like cardiomyopathy. Drinking less is good for your heart.
5: Reduced risk of Cancer: The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of developing cancer such as mouth, throat, bowel and liver cancer.
Ask About Alcohol
The HSE’s Ask About Alcohol campaign and website gives you the information you need to drink less and gain more, direct from the experts.
Cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink can help you live a healthier life. If you want to make a change, Ask About Alcohol has lots of tips and tools to help you cut down and stay on track.
If you want some help calculating your alcohol consumption, use the Ask About Alcohol Drinks Calculator.
Worried about your own or some else’s drinking? There is help available. Visit http://www.askaboutalcohol.ie for further information.
NATIONAL CANCER CONTROL PROGRAMME
In Ireland 1 in 3 men will develop cancer in their lifetime – a spanner in the works!
What is cancer?
Cancer starts in the body’s cells, cells are the building blocks that make up our bodies organs and tissues. Sometimes cells in a specific part of the body can go wrong, like the car GPS telling you to turn right but there is no right. When the cells go wrong they become abnormal, growing uncontrollably and making more abnormal cells. Like if you turned the car right when the GPS told you, you are making an unusual road. Cancer is the term used to describe this abnormal over-growth of cells which form a tumour.
Take the spanner out of the works
What do you think can stop the spanner getting into the engine? If you knew you can reduce the risk of the spanner getting into the works…….if you knew that over one third of cancers can be prevented…….what would you do?
Cancer Risk Reduction
The European Code for Cancer Prevention outlines 12 ways for everybody to reduce their cancer risk. Lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of cancer for brothers, dads, sons, uncles, cousins, friends. In Ireland skin, prostate, colorectal and lung cancer are the most common types of cancer in men. Food, physical activity, smoking, weight, alcohol, sun protection affect the risk of developing these cancer and attending bowel screening can spot cancer early.
Health is complex. Every day we are bombarded with new information about what we should and should not be doing and this can be quite confusing. What will follow over the coming weeks will be a series of articles about how to reduce the risk of a spanner in the works and how to spot a spanner in the works early. The purpose is not to tell you what to do but to highlight things that you can do (or not do) that can reduce the risk of cancer and how to spot it early.
- Common Cancer Myths Among Men
- What do men want to know about cancer prevention? Findings from the Mechanic study
- Body Weight; Why 10% Can Make a Difference!
- The Sobering Truth; Alcohol and Cancer
- Small Lifestyle Changes can last a Lifetime
- Manual for Men – reducing your risk of cancer one step at a time
- Early detection; Skin Cancer
- Early detection; Bowel Screening
- National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Prostate Cancer Programme
There are over 30,000 new cancers cases in Ireland each year……one third of cases can be prevented…… brothers, dads, sons, uncles, cousins, friends ….what would you do?
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND IN IRELAND
Over the coming months, we’ll be featuring regular blogs from some of the 40+ partner organisations featured on Malehealth.ie. This week’s blog entry comes to you from the National Council for the Blind in Ireland.
SEEING THE FUTURE WITH SIGHT LOSS
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”.
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”.
MEN’S HEALTH FORUM IN IRELAND
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 (www.mhfi.org/mhw/about-mhw.html) offers an ideal opportunity to kick-start this action.
To support MHW the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (www.mhfi.org) 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: www.mhfi.org/challenges2017.pdf
PARTNER BLOG – IRISH HEART
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 irishheart.ie
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 irishheart.ie