NI Minister of Health & Lord Mayor of Belfast check in with their heart health

Local health charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke celebrates its 75th anniversary.

First established in 1946, the charity was formed by 16 visionary volunteers as the first NI branch of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. Changing its focus to concentrate on all diseases of the chest and heart in 1959, the charity further expanded to include stroke in 1976.

Today, 75 years on, NICHS continues to care for and support local people living with chest, heart and stroke illness across Northern Ireland.

To commemorate this landmark occasion, the charity is offering free health checks, open to all adults living in NI, at its Dublin Road headquarters for the remainder of the month of June.

The first to avail of the health checks were Minister of Health Robin Swann and recently appointed Lord Mayor of Belfast Kate Nicholl.

Fidelma Carter, Head of Public Health at NICHS says, “We are delighted that both the Health Minister and Lord Mayor took the time to visit us this morning, on our anniversary, for a health check. It delivers a very clear message, that no matter how busy you are, it so important to make your health a priority.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said; “As a long-time supporter of NICHS and the great work they do in the community, I am delighted to help mark the charity’s special anniversary. Health checks like these have the potential to save lives.  I would encourage anyone to book in for a free check-up this June. It is essential to take time for your health.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Kate Nicholl said; “Over the decades, the charity has made an enormous contribution, supporting communities across the country, and it is just as essential today. Having had my health check this morning, I can say it was really quick and easy; and I would encourage everyone to take 10 minutes out of your day and make your health a priority.”

NICHS’s free health checks include both a BP (Blood Pressure) check and a test for AF (Atrial Fibrillation – a type of irregular heartbeat).

Fidelma Carter says; “We are concentrating our testing on high blood pressure (HBP) and AF because the biggest gains to life expectancy can be made from early detection and treatment of these risk factors. We are the only charity in Northern Ireland to offer AF testing, and it really does save lives.”
Research demonstrates that for every 25 AF patients detected, and appropriately treated, one stroke will be prevented. And, High Blood Pressure (HBP) is responsible for over half of all strokes and heart attacks.

Fidelma Carter says; “Worryingly, around 146,698 adults in NI have undetected high blood pressure so it’s well worth booking in for a test. And, as well as the obvious health benefits, a 15% increase in HBP detection rate across NI could save the Health and Social Care system around £3.6m per annum. That’s a huge saving!”

The charity is also organising a free pop-up Health Check service for areas of greatest need across Northern Ireland from September onwards.

To book a health check, visit