JULY 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com and will be offered follow-up support by phone and text to help them make lifestyle changes on the basis of their health check results. Marese Damery, Health Check manager, Irish Heart Foundation, has welcomed the opportunity to collaborate on this project. “This builds on the research already commissioned by us, which revealed that 80 per cent of farmers are in the high-risk group for heart disease and stroke, and that recommended that more research be conducted on effective interventions with this group. The study adds significant value to the regular health checks that we undertake each year through our Farmers Have Hearts programme, supported by the HSE.” “We are particularly happy to have the opportunity Rural Life to work in partnership on such a valuable study. This research is important in identifying ways that we can support farmers make positive changes to their lifestyles.” Audrey O’Shea, sustainability manager with Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, said the ability to sustain a dairy enterprise is not only related to animal, environmental and economic care. “The health, safety and physical wellbeing of our farmers is fundamental to continued success,” she said. Assisting the farming community to improve health and safety is a key objective for Teagasc. The research will provide opportunities for farmers attending marts in 60 locations throughout Ireland during 2018-2019 to undertake a health screen test and, if they choose, to participate in the study which will seek to support them to achieve their healthier lifestyle goals. Farmers Have Hearts is an Irish Heart Foundation initiative funded by the Health Service Executive. Each year, Irish Heart Foundation nurses provide 1,000 free health checks to farmers at marts around the country. The initiative was established because farmers in Ireland are seven times more likely to die from heart disease and stroke than people with other occupations. The initiative was established because farmers in Ireland are seven times more likely to die from heart disease and stroke than people with other occupations! The programme has been running since 2013 and more than 5,000 farmers have received free health checks under the programme. Farmers Have Hearts   Research In 2013, the Irish Heart Foundation commissioned research to get an insight into the cardiovascular health of Irish farmers based on the results of Irish Heart Foundation’s Farmers Have Hearts health checks conducted at marts and to establish the impact of this health intervention. The research found that: • Almost half of farmers (46 per cent) had high blood pressure; • Almost half of farmers (46.1 per cent) had raised cholesterol levels; • 86.4 per cent of farmers were classified as overweight; • More than one third of farmers (35.5 per cent) reported not being physically active for five days or more a week; • 64.2 per cent of farmers reported experiencing stress ‘sometimes’; • Almost half of farmers (46.4 per cent) reported that they drank alcohol on a regular basis and 25 per cent of ‘drinkers’ reported drinking more than 17 standard drinks a week; and • The majority of farmers (80.7 per cent) had four or more cardiovascular disease risk factors such as family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight. For more information about Farmers Have Hearts, including details of where the Irish Heart Foundation nurses will be visiting: https://irishheart.ie/your-health/our-healthprogrammes/healthy-communities/farmers-have-hearts/. Front: Ms Diana van Doorn, Walsh Fellow, Teagasc/IT Carlow; Professor Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc; Audrey O’Shea, sustainability manager, Glanbia. Back: Dr Catherine Blake, UCD; Dr Aoife Osborne, UCD; Ms Paula Rankin, IT Carlow; Dr David Meredith, Teagasc; Dr John McNamara, Teagasc; Dr Noel Richardson, IT Carlow; Janice Morrissey, Irish Heart Foundation; and Marese Damery, Irish Heart Foundation. The recently launched farmer cardiovascular health study will be conducted by Teagasc PhD Walsh Fellow, Ms Diana Van Doorn, at the Centre for Men’s Health at IT Carlow. This study is supported by Glanbia Ireland, Irish Heart Foundation, Health Service Executive and UCD School of Physiotherapy and Performance Science. Ms Van Doorn was one of the lead authors of the 2015 Irish Heart Foundation Farmers Have Hearts study. CSO data on stroke and heart disease Recent data from the Central Statistics O ce (CSO) show that heart disease and stroke were responsible for almost 6,000 lives in 2017. The data also showed that cancers and heart disease accounted for more than 60 per cent of all deaths. The CSO’s Vital Statistics Yearly Summary for 2017 revealed that diseases of the circulatory system accounted for 8,927 deaths or an annual rate of 1.9 per 1,000 population. Of these, 4,238 were due to ischaemic heart disease and 1,710 to cerebrovascular disease. 61