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Over half the people attending the Irish Heart Foundation’s (IHF) mobile health unit have been referred back to their GP, according to the Medical Director of the Foundation.
Following an evaluation of mobile health unit visitors, comprising over 20,000 people, the IHF has accumulated statistics regarding the high number of visitors who were advised to visit their GP following the check.
Speaking to the Medical Independent, Dr Brown called high blood pressure “the silent killer” as so many people do not realise they have it or do not show symptoms.
“It’s very common, and in fact while we’ve been running the mobile health unit we’ve actually had to refer over half of the people back to their GP, with one in three people having high blood pressure,” she said.
The mobile health unit launched in July, and has been supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb to travel around Ireland for six months.
The ultimate goal of the IHF’s mobile unit, Dr Angie Brown said, is to make people aware of what their blood pressure should be, what their blood pressure actually is, and to encourage regular heart checks. The mobile unit provides free blood pressure checks, pulse checks, lifestyle advice and heart health information.
“Even if they’ve had a blood pressure check five years ago, to get it re-checked, because as you get older the blood pressure tends to increase, we get more sedentary people who can put on weight as they get older so blood pressure creeps up as we age,” she said.
Dr Brown also feels that all medical professions have a responsibility to ensure that patients are aware of their heart health. She said that pharmacists, nurses, hospital staff and GPs should be making patients aware of what their blood pressure is and what a normal blood pressure is.
She said that GPs now are “much more proactive” in checking people’s blood pressure, but acknowledges that during a GP visit, there is not much time to have a blood pressure check.
Dr Brown named a myriad of health problems that can be caused by high blood pressure as stroke, heart failure, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, kidney failure, dementia and impotence.
At free checks from the mobile health unit, visitors can also receive information from nurses about smoking cessation, lifestyle, and potential risk factors. The Irish Heart Foundation website provides details of where the mobile health unit will travel next.