Pharmacies call for cardiovascular health check service

Pilot programme found more than a quarter of participants had high blood pressure

The pilot was carried out during the summer in 68 pharmacies throughout the Republic.

The pilot was carried out during the summer in 68 pharmacies throughout the Republic.

 

Irish pharmacies have called for the roll-out of a HSE-funded cardiovascular health check service in communities across the State.

A national roll out of population health checks for hypertension and atrial fibrillation in community pharmacies would have “significant benefits”, according to a new report to be launched on Thursday by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).

The report outlines the results of a pilot to detect people at risk of hypertension and atrial fibrillation.

The pilot was carried out during the summer in 68 pharmacies throughout the Republic. It aimed to identify people 50 years of age and over who had high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat or both. More than 1,100 people took part.

The study was funded by Pfizer Healthcare Ireland through an “educational grant”, while the Irish Heart Foundation provided “support materials and training”.

In the pilot, more than a quarter of participants were identified as having high blood pressure, while an irregular pulse was detected in 5.5 per cent. Some 2 per cent of participants showed signs of both.

IPU president Daragh Connolly said the findings showed the service should be implemented in community pharmacies across the State.

“These findings are particularly important, especially when Irish data suggests that 64 per cent of people over the age of 50 have high blood pressure and that nearly half of those are undiagnosed,” he said.

“The pilot objectives aligned perfectly with Government priorities for the health service and we believe that the findings strongly support the roll-out nationally of an HSE-funded cardiovascular health check service.”

Irish Heart Foundation medical director Dr Angie Brown said people with untreated atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke.

“High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and heart attack which affects almost one million people in Ireland,” she said. “Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, with one in four people over the age of 50 at risk of developing it.”