Think of the term 'silent killer' and images of black-garbed movie assassins might come to mind. However, in medical circles the description is increasingly used for something a little closer to the bone – high blood pressure. The condition ordinarily doesn’t manifest any symptoms until late in the day, by which time it can contribute to organ damage, strokes and heart attacks.
A study published in April by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing indicated that more than 60% of people aged over 50 in Ireland may have high blood pressure. Undoubtedly, high blood pressure is a major risk factor in heart disease, which remains the number one killer in Ireland, accounting for 27 deaths per day. Other risk factors in heart disease include high cholesterol, smoking and lack of exercise. Again, these risk factors build over time, and the dangers are heightened by a tendency amongst people to neglect pre-emptive action.
Organising a comprehensive medical check-up isn’t top of the agenda for most people, who tend to wait until pain hits before taking action. The working week also puts a premium on employees’ time but a plethora of health screening services in Ireland are now bringing their tests directly to workplaces.
Healthcare Screening Ireland (HCSI) is one such company. It is a division of Cruinn Diagnostics, which has been providing diagnostics solutions to the healthcare market for the past 17 years. HCSI’s personnel are all registered nurses and are fully supported by medical and scientific staff.
HCSI’s check-ups have been brought to workplaces by employers in Tesco, Keelings, PepsiCo and Merrion Fleet, among others. HCSI’s USP is that the company provides a range of specific cardiac tests not undertaken by competitor services. As well as this, test results are provided immediately after the end of the consultation.
The 45-minute test offered by HCSI is comprehensive, comprising a ten-year cardiovascular risk assessment, artery scans, a full cholesterol profile, diabetes screening, blood pressure testing, BMI measurements and more. The test can be done in the workplace or at an off-site location. The cost depends on various factors, including the number of participants screened and the range of tests carried out.
The tests aren’t onerous and the resulting information is collected into a detailed health report, which is discussed with participants. Employers obviously won’t get to look at these individual reports; instead they get an aggregated anonymous report on their workforce.
According to HCSI managing director Sean McGeown, getting the test results straight away is a better set-up for employees and their employers. “It can be a real relief to clients to receive and discuss all their results there and then, as opposed to weeks later in a follow-up consultation, or worse, receiving the results via post.”
All test results are sent for review by HCSI’s consultant cardiologist, who reverts back with appropriate referral or lifestyle advice for each participant. If something abnormal does show up during the course of the testing, HCSI says that the participant will be referred to their GP for further investigation.
It’s generally recommended that people over the age of 35 undertake health screening every two years, although where there is a family history of illness it is advised to get an annual check-up.
Madigan, I., (2015) 'Workplace check-ups', Business Plus, June 2015, p. 86
The benefits of health screening can be felt by both the employer and the employee alike. Health screening is an effective way of increasing employee morale, and leads to reduced sickness and levels of absenteeism.
Smoking Cessation Programmes, Carbon Monoxide Lung Analysis, Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, Alcohol Awareness/Risk Assessment, Spirometry, Celiac Testing, Weight and Stress Management.