Men urged to look after their hearts

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has launched a campaign encouraging men to take care of their hearts, writes Director of Health, Information and Training, at the IHF, Janis Morrissey
Men urged to look after their hearts

Peter Stringer is one of the ambassadors for  the Reboot campaign. Picture: Miki Barlok

A TOTAL of 999 men died as a result of a heart attack last year, according to the latest data from the CSO.

The data also revealed that 4,612 men died from cardiovascular disease in 2020, compared to 4,132 women.

Not only are more men than women dying from heart disease and stroke, they are also dying earlier than their female counterparts. We know that men are almost three times more likely than women to die young (under the age of 65) from heart disease and stroke.

Despite the devastating impact heart disease and stroke can have on men’s lives, a new survey carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation revealed that one in four men do not prioritise their heart health.

To help combat this the Irish Heart Foundation has launched a ‘Reboot Your Life’ campaign which aims to encourage men to review their lifestyles and make vital changes to improve their heart health.

This new campaign calls on men to sign up to Reboot their life, where they can access heart health information, assess their lifestyle through a quiz, and be sent supportive emails throughout September. The website has plenty of tips for how men can make small changes for a healthier heart and future. We’ve also created a booklet full of helpful advice to help workplaces and community groups spread the word.

The campaign is supported by Rugby Players Ireland and fronted by a number of former Ireland internationals – Tommy Bowe, Malcolm O’Kelly, Peter Stringer and Paul Wallace.

In the past five years, two of the players’ friends and former teammates, Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley and Gary Halpin, passed away suddenly due to heart issues at the ages of just 42 and 55.

The former players have come together to encourage men of all backgrounds and fitness levels to take control of their health and ‘Reboot their Lives’ this September.

While one in four men in Ireland die from heart disease and stroke the good news is that 80 per cent of these deaths are preventable by adopting healthy lifestyles.

The older you get, the higher your risk – and so we are encouraging men, particularly men in their 40s and 50s, to take stock and Reboot their lifestyles by identifying what simple changes they can make now to benefit their heart health into the future.

Make that change

There are a number of things men can do to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. These include, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, getting their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, eating a healthy diet, being a healthy weight and being physically active.

Quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The benefits from quitting happen almost immediately, even 20 minutes after you quit that last cigarette. Your blood pressure and pulse return to normal while the risk of heart attack beings to fall just one day later.

Rethink your drink

Alcohol is high in sugar and calories, and drinking more than the recommended amount can be harmful to your heart. A bottle of wine has 550 calories which is about the same as a burger and fries.

Get active

Being physically active can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight which can in turn help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Numerous studies have also shown the positive impact physical activity can have on your mental health.

It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five days per week.

Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked

High blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Its important to get these checked regularly to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for a number of other conditions including kidney damage and dementia.

Eat for your heart

Other changes you can do to ensure a healthy heart include maintaining a healthy weight and eating well. Its best to aim for a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Limit processed salty meats such as sausages, bacon and ham and take very small amounts of unsaturated reduced fat spreads and oils. Try also to eat less foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt as they are not needed for good heart health.

Any change or small step you can make now to Reboot Your Life will help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Take action now and your heart will thank you for it.

The Reboot Your Life campaign is supported by the HSE as part of their delivery on Healthy Ireland, the national framework to support health and wellbeing in Ireland and Rugby Players Ireland.

For more information about the Reboot Your Life campaign please see www.irishheart.ie

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