Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 5 December 2016

Inter-county 'tractor football'match for heart awareness

Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30

At the launch of the Know Heart Failure Now campaign were (l-r) Billy Shaw, managing director, WR Shaw Ltd; Orlagh Harrington, Croi Heart Failure project manager; Prof. Ken Mc Donald, Consultant Cardiologist, St. Vincent's Hospital Dublin, and Niall Donagher, Laois senior footballer.
At the launch of the Know Heart Failure Now campaign were (l-r) Billy Shaw, managing director, WR Shaw Ltd; Orlagh Harrington, Croi Heart Failure project manager; Prof. Ken Mc Donald, Consultant Cardiologist, St. Vincent's Hospital Dublin, and Niall Donagher, Laois senior footballer.

Preparations are at fever pitch for the 2016 National Ploughing Championships. At this stage the site infrastructure in Tullamore is complete and stand layouts are being finalised. Much of the heavy machinery gear will move onsite over the coming days in anticipation of record crowds for the three-day event.

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One really worthwhile health initiative that caught my eye for this year's event is Ireland's first heart failure awareness campaign aimed at farmers.

The 'Know Heart Failure Now' campaign aims to increase awareness of heart failure, a medical condition that currently affects 90,000 people in Ireland.

With the prevalence increasing, up to one in five people will develop heart failure at some point during their lifetime. To help raise awareness of the condition, a special heart failure tractor football tournament is being held to encourage the farming community to better take care of their hearts.

As part of the campaign, free tests will be offered to Ploughing punters to assess their risk of developing a heart condition.

The Offaly versus Laois, three-a side tractor football teams will battle it out in New Holland tractors supplied by local dealer WR Shaw; the game will involve the tractors trying to get the massive seven foot football through the posts.

As part of the campaign, the 'Know Heart Failure Now' stand, hosted in the Health and Wellness tent at the Ploughing, will invite visitors to speak to healthcare professionals about the symptoms and risk factors of heart failure. The campaign is being supported by the Heart Failure Patient Alliance and Novartis Ireland Ltd.

Commenting on the importance of the heart failure awareness initiative, Anna May McHugh, managing director of the NPA said: "Tractors are at the heart of the farming community and many of us could be accused of looking after our tractors better than our own heart health.

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"This is the first time a Tractor Football Tournament has ever been held in Ireland - maybe even the world. We're looking forward to great excitement and hope this initiative increases awareness about farmer health."

Billy Shaw from WR Shaw, owners of the participating New Holland tractors said: "Our Offaly versus Laois-branded New Holland tractors and expert drivers will be doing their bit to increase awareness for heart failure.

"My mother passed away from a heart condition, so I have a very personal link to this campaign. I encourage everyone attending the Ploughing to become a tractor footie supporter in aid of heart failure awareness."

At a basic level the heart is simply a pump, just like any pump around the farm. When the efficiency of the pump drops, heart disease can develop, causing symptoms of tiredness and breathlessness felt when doing normal tasks. Other common symptoms include swelling of the feet or ankles. It is a serious but manageable condition that affects approximately 90,000 people in Ireland.

It is also the leading cause of hospitalisation for those aged 65 and over in Ireland, and causes up to three times as many deaths as breast cancer and bowel cancer.

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of developing heart failure are high blood pressure, diabetes and suffering a previous heart attack.

Research has shown that one in three people in Ireland mistake heart failure symptoms for signs of aging, and one in four wait a week or more to seek medical advice when experiencing these serious symptoms.

However, improved understanding of heart failure, early diagnosis and new treatments can allow patients to live longer, feel better and be more active.

This campaign encourages those at risk of heart failure who have more than one of the symptoms to speak to their healthcare professional and request a heart examination.

Professor Ken McDonald, consultant cardiologist and national clinical lead for heart failure said: "The term heart failure can be frightening and is often misunderstood. By bringing attention to this condition, this campaign aims to increase the public's awareness and understanding of heart failure in order to help people take action earlier and thereby improve their outlook."

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