Director of Health Promotion, Information and Training, Irish Heart Foundation
One in four men in Ireland die from heart disease and stroke and men are nearly three times more likely than women to die young from these issues.
The good news is that 80% of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. There are many actions that men can take to reduce their risk including stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet and being physically active.
It is often thought that men don’t engage in health services, but our experience in the Irish Heart Foundation is that with a person-centred and tailored approach, men do take part in programmes.
Designing health programmes for men
We work in partnership with many national and local stakeholders including the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, Pavee Point, the HSE and the Men’s Development Network to design and deliver relevant, innovative approaches to men’s health.
Research has shown that three in four farmers in Ireland have four or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Our ground-breaking ‘Farmers Have Hearts’ programme takes a targeted approach given that research has shown that three in four farmers in Ireland have four or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The programme engages with farmers in their workplace. It aims to identify farmers cardiovascular risk, encourage them to make positive lifestyle changes and refer those at high risk to their GP. We are working with a range of partners including the National Centre for Men’s Health Research to develop a health behaviour change programme to improve farmers’ heart health.
Taking stock of your lifestyle
Our recent Reboot national awareness campaign called on men to sign up to take stock of and reboot their lifestyles by identifying what simple changes they can make now to benefit their heart health into the future.
One of the key campaign messages was that every small step you take to improve your heart health adds up. No matter what area of lifestyle you wish to address, getting into the right frame of mind is essential for change. You need to feel ready and have clear reasons for making the change.
To prepare, it can be helpful to ask such questions as: ‘How important is my heart health to me? What barriers have kept me from making changes in the past? How important is this change to me? and How confident do I feel that I can make it?’