Rural Life JULY 2018 New study to examine ways to improve farmers’ cardio health A new four-year study will examine ways to assist farmers in improving their cardiovascular health, contributing to existing research that has revealed that 80 per cent of farmers are in the high-risk category for heart disease and stroke Irish farmers, in particular males, are a high-risk group for cardiovascular (CVD) disease, the leading cause of death in Ireland, according to Teagasc. While there has been a general decline in mortality rates in the Irish population in recent decades, the rate of decrease among farmers has been the lowest of any socio-economic group. Lifestyle behaviours, including occupational factors are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease and are, therefore, preventable. If untreated, CVD can have serious impacts on a farmer’s health, which undermines the profitability, productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of farming, according to Teagasc. Speaking at the recent launch of the study, Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc director, said: “By working with farmers and agencies with a role in health research and promotion, we can meet the key challenge of devising and implementing strategies to assist farmers to effectively manage occupational health issues including CVD. It is for this reason that I am delighted that substantial resources have been allocated to this project by Glanbia Ireland, Irish Heart, the Health Service Executive (HSE), Institute of Technology Carlow, University College Dublin and Teagasc. These will enable us to work together to deliver real impact for farmers and family farms.” Health checks 60 According to the Irish Heart Foundation, this new research study will incorporate its Farmers Have Hearts health checks, which will be carried out in Glanbia Ireland locations in the coming months and in marts in the autumn. As part of the health check, Irish Heart Foundation nurses will measure a farmer’s blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and carbon monoxide for those who smoke. The health check is a private one-to-one session and all participants will receive their results on the same day, as well as personalised advice on how to manage their risk factors and prevent serious health events such as a heart attack. Farmers considered to be at health risk will be advised to visit their GP. Participants in the study will be invited for a free repeat health check 52 weeks later,