Morgan sons warn on blood pressure

Wed, Aug 22, 2012, 01:00

All adults, even healthy ones, should have their blood pressure checked regularly to reduce their risk of heart disease, the Irish Heart Foundation has warned.

The only way to know you have high blood pressure is to get it checked, it says.

The three sons of comedian Dermot Morgan, who died prematurely of a heart attack 14 years ago, this morning launched the foundation’s September Heart Month campaign, which aims to increase awareness of the need for blood pressure checks.

As part of the campaign, the foundation is offering free checks at more than 50 locations nationwide, as part of its national blood pressure mobile roadshow.

Six out of 10 adults over 45 have high blood pressure, half of whom do not know it, according to the IHF.

High blood pressure can act as a silent killer with no symptoms, by damaging blood vessels which can later lead to heart attack, stroke and heart or kidney failure.

“Looking back, no-one thought Dad was a candidate for a heart attack,” said eldest son Don, aged 33.

“He was young and looked good, didn’t smoke. But thinking about it, his lifestyle was pretty hectic and stressed, liked his food and eating out and the only running around he did was chasing after us at the weekends which probably doesn’t count as being active.”

“I’d say at 45, dad thought he was in his prime and didn’t feel the need to worry about having high blood pressure which may have been doing silent damage without him knowing it.”

Rob Morgan, Dermot’s middle son, said his father died “far too young by anyone’s measure”.

“I think it’s often easy to think we are invincible and that blood pressure checks are for someone else or for someone older. But as I know firsthand, heart attacks and strokes can happen when you least expect it. Ever since Dermot died, I’m paranoid about getting checked for my blood pressure and it’s a good thing too.”

Nearly 10,000 people died from cardiovascular diseases in Ireland each year. The good news, according to Dr Angie Brown, medical director of the IHF, is that once detected, high blood pressure can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes such as being a health weight, being active and consuming less salt, calories and alcohol.

“In some cases doctors will recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medication to manage your blood pressure and protect you against heart attacks and strokes,” she said.