Free health checks to take place this Saturday

Irish Heart Foundation carrying out free screenings as part of Healthy Town inititative

The Irish Heart Foundation will carry out free screenings in Athlone later this month. Photograph: Thinkstock

The Irish Heart Foundation will carry out free screenings in Athlone later this month. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) continues its series of free health screenings this Saturday (October 24th) in the Sheraton Hotel Athlone as part of the Irish Times/Pfizer Healthy Town initiative.

The screenings include free blood pressure and cholesterol and weight  checks as well as advice on lifestyle and diet. They generally take about 30 minutes.

Up to 80 per cent of the risks of cardiovascular disease are preventable through simple lifestyle changes, according to the IHF.

Risks to your heart include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, drinking or smoking too much.

While people are becoming more aware of the risks, “they are not as aware as we would like them to be," says Marese Damery, health check co-ordinator with the IHF.

Last year, a similar exercise in Co Laois found that one in five of the 300-plus people screened had high blood pressure, a relatively high figure. One in three had high cholesterol and 75 per cent were overweight. Of these, 28 per cent could be classified as obese.

Damery acknowledges that the recent recessionary years may have taken a toll on people, leading some to drink, smoke or eat more of the wrong foods than they should. She says the link between cardiovascular disease and stress is not fully known.

However, she points out that if you can deal with stress the risks can be reduced.

Damery says it is not about “finger pointing”, but IHF staff will go through the person’s lifestyle habits and test for cholesterol, blood pressure, weight etc.

“It s about changing habits.. small steps such as going for a walk, or reducing salt or alcohol intake or whatever,” she says.

It is best to book the screening in advance.

This can be done by contacting Caoimhe Rudden at 01-6685001.