You do not need to be dependent on alcohol for it to affect your health, according to a major new awareness campaign.
Alcohol can cause a range of health problems and one of the most common of these is high blood pressure.
Almost one million people in Ireland have high blood pressure, which is a major cause of heart attack and stroke. Drinking too much alcohol over time raises blood pressure, which results in the heart having to work harder to pump blood around the body. However, the major issue with this condition is that many people do not know they have it because of a lack of symptoms.
"It's so important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, as high blood pressure can be dangerous if left untreated. Three in five adults over the age of 45 have high blood pressure, but the good news is that it is one of the most preventable alcohol-related problems - once detected it can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes such as drinking less and possibly medication," explained consultant cardiologist and medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF), Dr Angie Brown.
The new campaign is being run by the IHF and the HSE's AskAboutAlcohol.ie. It aims to raise awareness of the links between alcohol and heart health.
It noted that in many cases, there can be a gap between people's perceptions of what they are drinking and what they are actually drinking. While the more you drink, the higher the risk of developing high blood pressure, even one drink a day can increase this risk.
"You don't need to be dependent on alcohol for it to affect your health. The purpose of AskAboutAlcohol.ie is to improve people's knowledge - how much we're drinking, how it affects our health, and how we can gain more by drinking less.
"Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to screen their patients to make sure they are aware of the risks linked to the amount they are drinking," commented Marion Rackard of the HSE Alcohol Programme.
This campaign is encouraging people to get their blood pressure checked by their GP or pharmacist. They can also use the Drinks Calculator on AskAboutAlcohol.ie to find out if their drinking levels may be increasing their risk.
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