Worrying stats highlight heart disease risk among Irish adults

 - 70% of Irish men and half of women are overweight or obese according to health screening results released by laya healthcare[1]

 - Over one in ten screened required further cardiac follow-up consultations1

 - Irish adults of all ages urged to take better care of their hearts as 80% of heart disease is preventable[2]


[17th September, 2019]: Ahead of World Heart Day on 29th of September, cardiac screening results released today by laya healthcare reveal that Irish adults are putting serious pressure on their hearts and not taking the necessary steps to prevent early heart disease, with those aged under 50 at particular risk.  

Statistics released by HeartBeat, laya healthcare’s cardiac screening programme, which screened 5,000 members between August 2018 and July 2019 show that on average seven in ten men (70%) and just over half of women (52%)1, are overweight or obese. The stats also highlighted that a quarter (24.4%) of men and one in five (19.5%) women have high blood pressure, a key risk factor when it comes to heart disease. Worryingly, high blood pressure is a problem among younger people with one in five (21%) of those aged between 30 – 49 years classified as having high blood pressure. The health screening results mirror similar findings by a study by Imperial College London, reported in the Lancet, which found that Ireland has one of the highest rates of blood pressure internationally, but among the lowest levels of diagnosis, treatment and control of the condition.

Worryingly, over one in ten people (13%)1 screened by laya healthcare required additional cardiac follow-up appointments and referrals to further investigate potential heart health issues including Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SAS). These referrals were based on irregularities that showed up in their electrocardiogram (ECG), family history or their physical examination results.


Heart disease one of Ireland’s biggest killers

Approximately 10,000 people die in Ireland from Cardiovascular Disease each year, accounting for 36% of deaths per annum[3]. That’s despite the fact that 80% of all heart disease is deemed preventable[4] through some lifestyle changes and modifying risk factors.

According to Sinead Proos, Head of Health and Wellbeing at laya healthcare, it’s time for people to take this knowledge on board and consider their heart health at a younger age, “There’s a perception that heart disease is a health issue that affects an older generation, but heart disease can strike at any age so it’s vitally important we give our heart health the attention it needs.

“At laya healthcare we pride ourselves on being on the pulse when it comes to health trends and research and pass this information onto our members to help educate and empower them to look after their own heart health. The symptoms you may experience during a heart attack are not always the obvious classic signs of severe chest pain, so if you’re suffering from tiredness, shortness of breath or back pain, we’d urge you to get checked out and speak with your doctor. To date, we’ve screened 110,000 hearts as part of our HeartBeat programme with one in 10 being referred on for further investigations. The screening only takes about 15 minutes, but those minutes could save your life and start you on the road to learning how to better look after your heart.”


Women and heart health

In Ireland, half of women will die from cardiovascular disease and are seven times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer[5]. Further stats presented by laya healthcare highlight a concerning number of women are at risk, nearly two in every five (39.7%), have a very high waist circumference of 88cm+. The average for a female is a circumference of 80cm or less. Coupled with the high numbers of women found to be overweight or obese (52%) and with higher than normal blood pressure (26.9%), there is a real danger that women are not taking as much care of their hearts as they should.


Healthy heart habits

While the HeartBeat screening stats reveal a significant risk of heart disease among men and women, the power of prevention is key and Proos has advice for people looking to make positive changes to address their heart health. “It’ll come as no surprise that eating a healthier diet, exercising, giving up smoking, managing stress and drinking less alcohol all play a role in preventing heart disease. But it’s often easier said than done. Our advice to anyone out there  who is looking to make changes, is to get support today. We have a number of supportive benefits that are available to our members that will make a positive impact in both their physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re not a member, we still have some fantastic advice and tips available on our website,” she said.

For more information on HeartBeat,  visit www.layahealthcare.ie/yourbenefits/heartscreening



For more information contact:

Ciarán Curran, H+A Marketing + PR. Tel.: 021 466 6200 | 083 106 1193


HeartBeat cardiac screening

HeartBeat cardiac screening is available to members over the age 12 at no additional cost every two years. To date laya healthcare have screened over 110,000 members. The screening checks Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, a physical examination, electrocardiogram (ECG) and a review and report by a consultant cardiologist. For more information on HeartBeat, visit layahealthcare.ie/yourbenefits/heartscreening


About laya healthcare

Laya healthcare members can avail of some of the most innovative health insurance benefits and services in the Irish health insurance market along with life insurance (layalife.ie) and travel insurance (layatravelinsurance.ie). Its brand promise, Looking After You Always, represents laya healthcare’s member-centric approach, which is fundamental to its vision and values.

Laya healthcare is proudly part of AIG, one of the leading global insurance organisations in the world with customers in more than 80 countries and jurisdictions. With their experienced team and innovative insurance solutions, along with AIG’s financial backing, global expertise and long-term commitment to Ireland, laya healthcare expect to go from strength to strength, widening their offering and bringing value and innovation to Ireland’s insurance market.

Health insurance provided by Elips Insurance Ltd trading as Laya Healthcare. Laya Healthcare Ltd trading as Laya Healthcare and Laya Life is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Laya Healthcare Limited trading as Laya Life and Laya Healthcare is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. 



[1] Individual HeartBeat appointments Aug 2018 – July 2019 – 5,038 people screened.

[2] Irish Heart Foundation

[3] www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/c/coronary-heart-disease/

[4] Irish Heart Foundation

[5] https://croi.ie/health/women-at-heart/