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In this weeks Examiner, Eamonn outlines some basic steps you can take to help prevent heart disease

Posted by Eamonn Brady on


Basic steps to prevent heart disease

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacies, Pearse St and Clonmore, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is also known as heart disease and is the biggest killer in Ireland. It includes conditions such as coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke.


Risk factors

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one of the biggest factors for heart disease. High BP affects up to 50% of middle-aged and older people. High BP has no symptoms so routine checks are essential, especially on those over 50. Trials have shown that achieving the recommended blood pressure of 140/90 gives a 42% reduction in stroke, a 14% reduction in heart attacks and a 21% reduction in cardiovascular deaths. There is evidence that high blood pressure can increase risk of dementia in later life. In Whelehans we can check your blood pressure for free.



Cholesterol is another big factor for heart disease. The World Health Organisation estimates that almost 20% of strokes and 50% of heart attacks are linked to high cholesterol. The amount of cholesterol present in the blood can range from 3.6 to 7.8 mmol/litre. A level above 6 mmol/litre is considered high. Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol levels can cause narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attacks, and strokes. Our genes have the biggest influence on our cholesterol level, however diet also has a big influence.


Modifiable lifestyle changes

Modifiable risk factors are factors a person has influence over and can decide to change. The single most important modifiable risk factor is smoking. Smokers in their 30s and 40s are five times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. Other factors that reduce the risk of heart disease include regular exercise (equivalent to brisk walking for 3 hours or more per week) and loss of weight in overweight or obese people. Making healthier food choices with reduction in consumption of saturated fat and salt and increased consumption of oily fish and fruit and vegetables is recommended. Moderation of alcohol intake (to less than 2 units per day in females and 3 units per day in males) will reduce cardiovascular risk.


Non-Modifiable risk factors

Non-modifiable risk factors are factors a person cannot change and include age, sex, and family history of heart disease. Before menopause, women have a lower risk of heart disease than men of the same age but after menopause, their risk is similar.


BPro Cardio Screen

BPro Cardio Screen is a cardiovascular health check. This test measures the stiffness of your arteries to help identify risk of blockages and risk of cardiovascular disease and circulation problems. Screening takes a couple of minutes. BPRo is placed like a watch on your wrist and is completely pain free. A laser diode reads and calculates a wave signal that indicates the elasticity of large, small, and peripheral artery walls as well as tests for stress, central blood pressure, heart rate, and more. It is now only €35 (was €50). Next Clinic is Thursday March 28th (next week) at Whelehans Pearse St Mullingar. Book by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591 or PM Whelehans on Facebook.


BPro Cardio Screen is not meant as a substitute for proper medical assessment with your doctor and should not replace prescription medication. Food supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet.


For health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).

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