A recent survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) revealed that approximately 20% of farmers in Northern Ireland have high blood pressure.

A total of 500 farmers took part in the poll, which included all age groups active within productive agriculture.

The results of the survey have encouraged the BHF chief executive for Northern Ireland, Fearghal McKinney, to propose that farmers should measure their blood pressure themselves on a regular basis.

“Farmers, for the most part, are working by themselves in quite remote locations. As a result, the option of popping down to the doctor’s surgery in order to have their blood pressure monitored is not that feasible.

“But, purchasing a very simple blood pressure monitor is a very suitable alternative.

“These can be procured at very reasonable prices. They also allow users to assess their blood pressure in a stress-free environment over the period of a view days,” McKinney said.

According to the chief executive, this approach represents a much more accurate way of assessing an individual’s blood pressure.

“Many people can be on edge as they wait in a surgery to have their blood pressure measured. As a consequence, the value recorded can be higher than the actual figure.

“In contrast, people are much more relaxed if they carry out the procedure in the comfort of their own homes.

“BHF wants to encourage more of this in the future, and this is the message we are communicating at Balmoral 2024.”

Heart and circulatory diseases cause nearly a quarter (24%) of all deaths in Northern Ireland, or around 4,000 deaths each year – an average of 11 people each day.

McKinney made these comments while attending this year’s Balmoral Show.

The event attracts 100,000 people on an annual basis. Additionally, it attracts large numbers of farmers: a key target demographic for BHF.

Around 1,100 people under the age of 75 in Northern Ireland die from heart and circulatory diseases (CVD) each year.

Since the 1960s, CVD death rates in Northern Ireland have fallen by three quarters.

 Death rates have fallen more quickly than the actual number of deaths because people in Northern Ireland are now living longer.

There are an estimated 225,000 people living with heart and circulatory diseases in Northern Ireland. An ageing and growing population and improved survival rates from heart and circulatory events could see these numbers rise still further.