'They're more comfortable if the health check is in the mart'

Mart checks: 'It gets farmers engaging,' says Dr Noel Richardson
Mart checks: 'It gets farmers engaging,' says Dr Noel Richardson
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Mart health-check screenings means that farmers don't have to scrub up - and it could save their lives, Dr Noel Richardson of the National Centre for Men's Health in IT Carlow said.

Last year a new four-year study began to identify how to help farmers improve their heart health. The study is based on original research commissioned by the Irish Heart Foundation which found that 80pc of farmers were in the high-risk group for heart disease

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In an effort to help farmers, the Irish Heart Foundation and Glanbia are offering free heart health checks for farmers across the country in marts.

Dr Noel Richardson said that the health checks often detect high blood pressure in farmers and leads to them visiting their GP where steps are taken to help the farmers tackle any health risks they may be facing. "It gets farmers out in the open and engaging with their own health," he said.

"It makes them feel more comfortable if the health check is happening in the mart. It removes the stigma those might feel for conventional health checks. They don't have to wash or scrub up. They can come as they are."

Health-check manager at the Irish Heart Foundation Marese Damery said that Irish farmers are in a high-risk group for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in Ireland.

She added that while a general decline in mortality rates has occurred in the Irish population in recent decades, the rate of decrease has been lower among farmers.

Meanwhile, according to the Health and Safety Authority's survey of 600 Irish farmers, the most common type of muscle injury experienced is back pain. Risk factors for manual handling include excessive force or weight, awkward posture during lifting and highly repetitive bending.

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The HSA advises that reducing loads, using attachments on tractors, improving seats on tractors, improving storage facilities and planning activities in advance can reduce the risk of back injury.

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