Heart disease and stroke remain Ireland’s ‘biggest killers’

Heart Surgeon

Heart disease and stroke continue to be Ireland’s biggest killers in spite of improved prevention and diagnosis and more effective treatment options, a consultant cardiologist has said.

Untreated or poorly-treated high cholesterol levels – which one in 12 people in Ireland are estimated to have – are the main causes of the problems, Prof Vincent Maher of Tallaght hospital said.

“Most people are completely unaware of their cholesterol risk until it is too late,” he said.

Prof Maher said that by “too late” he meant that people ended up having a heart attack or stroke or needing treatment such as a bypass, stent, surgery or amputation.

Raised LDL cholesterol – or “bad cholesterol” – has causes atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease; the build-up of plaque in arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows arteries which limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood.

Lowering bad cholesterol lowers the risk of heart and vascular disease (including vascular dementia, caused by problems in blood vessels feeding the brain; a risk that grows as people get older) and the outcome is best if intervention is early, Prof Maher said.

Source: Irish Times