In 2018, almost 3 in 10 deaths in Ireland were caused by heart disease and stroke according to the Central Statistics Office. The 2019 Pfizer Health Index found that 40% of Irish adults are concerned about developing heart disease in the future, while high blood pressure and high cholesterol are among the top three health conditions reported.
The Irish Heart Foundation advises that 80% of heart disease and stroke is preventable through lifestyle changes, including drinking less alcohol or none at all. September is Irish Heart Month - a great time to think about your drinking habits and see if it might be time to make a change.
We have all read media articles about research claiming the health benefits of moderate drinking however, a growing number of recent studies concluded that any beneficial effects against heart disease were cancelled out by the combined health risks associated with alcohol.
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.
The Drinkaware Index 2019 report revealed that just 2% of Irish adults can correctly identify the HSE low-risk weekly alcohol guidelines. Tracking how much alcohol you're drinking and sticking to the guidelines is an easy way to practise mindful drinking habits:
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.
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.