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Farmers urged to get their hearts checked

Gerry Devlin

Farmers attending NZ National Agricultural Fieldays this week are being encouraged to head down to the Heart Foundation stand and get their blood pressure checked.

Fieldays kicks off on Wednesday and runs for four days, with around 120,000 visitors expected to flock to Mystery Creek near Hamilton.

As one of the charities on site, the Heart Foundation will be offering free blood pressure checks, talking about the effects of heart disease, and demonstrating a new online tool for people who have had a heart attack.

Gerry Devlin, Heart Foundation Medical Director, urged farmers to head over to the stand in the Pavilion for a free blood pressure test with one of the Heart Foundation nurses.

“High blood pressure is the single most common risk factor in heart disease. It is often called the ‘silent killer’, because for most people there are no symptoms. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked.”

Devlin said New Zealand’s rural community is a key audience for the Heart Foundation because farmers are notoriously slow to get help when they experience heart trouble.

“Farmers need to take their heart health seriously. There are too many examples of farmers who ignore the symptoms of a heart attack because they feel it’s more important to finish milking the cows or shifting stock,” Devlin said.

Delaying treatment can be fatal or result in severe long-term damage to the heart. When a farmer has a heart event, the impact is not limited to that individual but to their livelihood, their staff and their financial future.

“That’s why it’s so important to get help at the first sign that something could be wrong with your heart. Don’t put it off and wait till end of the day – those extra minutes and hours matter,” Devlin said.

People living in isolated rural communities face greater difficulties accessing healthcare or medical advice but the Heart Foundation encourages farmers to see their health professional for heart checks because small preventative acts can have significant long-term benefits.

He added that the uncertain economic outlook for dairy farmers right now won’t help with levels of stress and depression, which can contribute to heart disease.

The Heart Foundation stand is located at site PD47 in the Mystery Creek Pavilion.

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