According to the Irish Heart Foundation, heart disease is Ireland’s number one killer and the most common cause of death and disability. Cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (angina, heart attack), stroke and other circulatory diseases. In Ireland, the figures speak for themselves:
Drinking less alcohol can help to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. This Irish Heart Month, why not take some time to think about your drinking habits and how this might be affecting your heart health? Here are some tips from Irish Heart Foundation to improve your blood pressure:
We have all read media articles about research claiming the health benefits of moderate drinking however, a recent major study concluded that any beneficial effects against heart disease were cancelled out by the combined health risks associated with alcohol so it’s worth taking some time to understand how your drinking habits may be impacting your heart health.
Regularly drinking over the low-risk guidelines raises your blood pressure, which means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. High blood pressure can also affect how quickly a heart beats (arrhythmia) and can cause the heart muscles to weaken (cardiomyopathy). High blood pressure is one of the most common alcohol-related health problems facing Irish adults, but many people don’t realise they have it. In fact, it is often referred to as a 'silent killer’ and by 2020, it is estimated that 1.2 million adults in Ireland – one-quarter of the population – will have high blood pressure.
Did you know? If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to have a heart attack than a person who is a healthy weight. Alcohol has a high calorie content but what many people don’t realise is that alcohol can also contain a lot of sugar, which can contribute to weight gain.
Are you drinking within the HSE low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption? Less than 3% of Irish adults can correctly identify the guidelines but they are important to know and can help you to see how much you are really drinking over the week. Remember, these are guidelines - not a target.
Common examples of one standard drink are a half pint of lager/stout/cider, a 100ml glass of wine or pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits. On average, it takes one hour for the body to process one standard drink and there's no quick fix - only time.
Here are some small steps you could take to drink less alcohol. Remember, everyone’s motivation for drinking less is different so it’s important to choose what will work for you.