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When Bobby Mulvaney got his blood pressure checked late last year, he never expected to end up in hospital a few months later with five stents in his leg.
A co-founder of the Men’s Shed community in Sallins, Co Kildare, Mr Mulvaney had heard about the dangers of high blood pressure and heart disease. However, he believed his headaches were stress related and felt it unnecessary to visit a doctor.
“We had a cluster meeting in the Men’s Shed in Sallins and the Irish Heart van was outside,” said Mr Mulvaney, speaking at the first anniversary of the Irish Heart mobile health unit.
“I would have passed that van in the car park outside a shopping centre and never thought of getting it done. Most men wouldn’t.
“Men don’t go to the doctor unless they’re really, really sick and I think that mentality is still out there.
“It was only because of the talk in the Men’s Shed of blood pressure medication that I happened to get it done. I found out my blood pressure was 175 over 90.”
Mr Mulvaney joined Irish sports commentator Marty Morrissey in Herbert Park on Monday calling on men and women of all ages to get checked for high blood pressure.
Mr Morrissey, who had his blood pressure checked on a park bench by the Herbert Park grandstand, admitted his diet of junk food while on the road was not beneficial to his health.
“I don’t smoke and I don’t drink but I party a lot unfortunately. I think I drive an awful lot and because I drive I’m inclined to go on the junk food and take a bar of chocolate or can of coke.
“ I suppose everyday as we get older we become more conscious of our health,” said the RTÉ commentator who was later informed by the Irish Heart nurse that his blood pressure was slightly above normal.
Men are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than women with an estimated one million people in Ireland currently at risk, according to the latest research from the Irish Heart charity.
This “silent killer” often goes undetected as many of those who suffer from high blood pressure often feel fine, warns Marese Damery, health check manager with Irish Heart.
“We know that there are groups of the population, such as men or those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have less opportunity or who are less inclined to access health services,”said Ms Damery. “The unfortunate flipside of this is that such groups have a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.”
“One of the key benefits of our Mobile Health Unit is the opportunity to reach out to these people on their own doorsteps - in shopping centres, in community centres, in Men’s Sheds.”
“We would advise people over the age of 30 to have it checked at least once a year. You should also look at your family history because that can be one of the causes of high blood pressure.”
If you want to avail of Irish Heart’s free blood pressure check you can follow the mobile unit’s stops around Ireland atirishheart.ie.