In a study published by the Irish Heart Foundation, almost 8 out of 10 Irish farmers were found to have four or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in Ireland, such as family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight. As a result 8 out of 10 farmers were advised to see their GP for follow-up.
Findings from the ‘Farmers Have Hearts’ initiative revealed that the most prevalent risk identified was obesity at 86%, and 82% had a family history of heart disease and stroke, a key risk for cardiovascular disease.
The Farmers Have Hearts campaign provided one-to-one health checks to farmers in marts across the country. The health checks measured blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose body mass index and waist circumference.
According to Maureen Mulvihill of the Irish Heart Foundation, “These extremely high levels of risk factors demonstrate why farmers are at such risk of heart disease and stroke. Not surprisingly most of the farmers were advised to see their GP by our health check nurses. After 12 weeks it was encouraging to see almost a third had followed up with their doctor but we need all farmers, advised to see their GP, to do so. ” She said that the perception among farmers that their active and outdoor occupation is ‘healthier’ was wrong. In fact, their 24/7 work life limits their opportunities to get to the GP for check-ups.
Main findings of the research:
-82.1% of farmers reported a family history of heart disease and/or stroke or diabetes.
-Almost half of farmers had high blood pressure.
-Almost half of farmers had raised total cholesterol levels.
-The vast majority of participating farmers were found to be overweight or obese.
In relation to self-reported health measures,
-One third of participating farmers reported not being physically active for 5 days or more a week.
-The majority of farmers reported experiencing stress ‘sometimes’ and, of those, 16.2% reported feeling stressed ‘most of the time’.
-17.8% of farmers reported smoking.
-Almost half of farmers reported that they drank alcohol on a regular basis and 25% of ‘drinkers’ reported drinking more than 17 standard drinks a week.
-Nearly 42% said they wouldn’t have had a health check if not for Farmers Have Hearts programme.
Farmers, look after yourselves! Be careful out there!