Health Checks

Blood Pressure Monitoring | What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force applied to the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood through the body. The pressure is determined by the force and amount of blood pumped and the size and flexibility of the arteries. Blood pressure is continually changing depending on activity, temperature, diet, emotional state, posture, physical state and medication use.

What is blood pressure testing?

Blood pressure is usually measured in a seated position, with an arm resting in a bent position so it is at the same level as your heart. Your upper arm should be bare, with your sleeve comfortably rolled up. Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and are given as two numbers. For example, 110 over 70 (written as 110/70).

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like the image to the left.

Systolic: The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).

Diastolic: The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Read as "120 over 80 millimeters of mercury"

What is the recommendation for healthy blood pressure?

  • Blood Pressure Category
  • Normal
  • Prehypertension
  • High BP (Hypertension) Stage 1
  • High BP (Hypertension) Stage 2
  • Hypertensive Crisis
  • Systolic mm Hg (upper #)
  • less than 120
  • 120 - 139
  • 140 - 159
  • 160 or higher
  • Higher than 180
  • &
  • or
  • or
  • or
  • or
  • Diastolic mm Hg (upper #)
  • less than 80
  • 80 - 89
  • 90 - 99
  • 100 or higher
  • Higher than 110

The top number is the systolic blood pressure reading. It represents the maximum pressure exerted when the heart contracts. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure reading. It represents the minimum pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest.

Who is blood pressure testing recommended for?

Most people cannot tell if their blood pressure is high because there are usually no symptoms. High blood pressure increases the risk of:

  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure

If you have high blood pressure, blood pressure measurements can help determine if your medicine and diet changes are working. Low blood pressure may be a sign of a variety of illnesses, including heart failure, infection, gland disorders and dehydration.

How do I prepare for a blood pressure test?

Blood pressure testing should be done when you are calm, have not exercised recently, used a tobacco product or consumed caffeine in the last 30 minutes. Download a leaflet from

24 Hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour or 'ambulatory' blood pressure monitoring requires you to wear a special monitor for a 24 hour period. This monitor takes readings at set intervals during the 24 hours. This service monitors changes to your blood pressure more accurately throughout the day and night. It also helps to eliminate the 'white-coat phenomenon'. This occurs when a person's blood pressure is known to rise due to the stress of attending a Doctor. Many Doctors use 24-hour monitoring before deciding whether you need to be started on medication to lower your blood pressure, or whether your medication needs to be changed. We will fit the device in-store and remove it the following day. You will be provided with a detailed report showing the changes in your blood pressure over the 24-hour period. This report can then be brought to your GP. A charge applies to the 24 hour blood pressure monitor.

Cholesterol Checking

We offer cholesterol checks in Ballyduff Pharmacy. Monitoring cholesterol is important to reduce your risk of Cardio vascular events Stroke or Heart Attack Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most common cause of death in Ireland, accounting for 36% of all deaths and 22% of deaths in those aged under 65. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of CVD is to keep cholesterol level in your blood at a healthy level. Having raised cholesterol levels will rarely produce any symptoms but will significantly increase your risk of developing CVD. Only a blood test will tell you if your cholesterol levels are raised.

We can check your total cholesterol level in store with our cholesterol test and give you written results in only 5 minutes. The cholesterol test involves taking a small sample of blood (about one large drop) from the finger tip which is then put into a machine which measures the cholesterol level. Our trained service provider will let you know your cholesterol test level and tell you what, if any, further action should be taken. By taking other risk factors into account (such as age, family history, smoking history etc), we will also be able to tell your overall risk of developing CVD and give you dietary and other advice on lowering your risk. Just contact us to make an appointment for a cholesterol test.

Patients need to fast for 12hours before a full lipid screening however a total cholesterol reading can be given if the patient has not fasted.

Blood Sugar Testing

Random blood glucose level

A sample of blood taken at any time can be a useful test if diabetes is suspected. A level of 11.1 mmol/L or more in the blood sample indicates that you have diabetes. A fasting blood glucose test may be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Fasting blood glucose level

A glucose level below 11.1 mmol/L on a random blood sample does not rule out diabetes. A blood test taken in the morning before you eat anything is a more accurate test. Do not eat or drink anything except water for 8-10 hours before a fasting blood glucose test. A level of 7.0 mmol/L or more indicates that you have diabetes. If you have no symptoms of diabetes but the blood test shows a glucose level of 7.0 mmol/L or more then the blood test must be repeated to confirm you have diabetes. A referral to your GP may be appropriate.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation can be achieved with or without assistance from healthcare professionals or the use of medications. Here at Ballyduff Pharmacy we offer a range of services to help and support you achieve your goal of quitting. Our staff are trained to help you and advise on the different methods and medication that is available to assist you. Getting help and support can increase your chances of succeeding, we offer the following:

  • 1 to 1 support
  • Discussion on approaches to quitting
  • Recommend products to assist you
  • Follow-up service

It's a good idea to check out the help available - you are much more likely to quit for good if you get support. Why not start your quit plan today and call in store for some advice.

Weight Management

Lipotrim - The programme involves using Lipotrim Total Food Replacement formulas in place of your regular meals and weekly visits to your pharmacy to monitor your progress. Each visit, the pharmacy will measure your weight, carry out a urine test (where possible) to measure ketones to check your compliance and adequacy of your fluid intake and give you the support and encouragement you need to stick to the programme.

You will also be using the pharmacy visits to pick up your weekly supply of Lipotrim foods. Once you reach your desired weight or are ready to stop, the pharmacy will help you switch back to eating ordinary food and introduce you to Lipotrim Maintenance products to help you maintain your new weight. Call us for further information.

Peak Flow Monitoring

A small hand-held device known as a peak flow meter can be used to measure how fast you can blow air out of your lungs in one breath. This is your peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), and the test is usually called a peak flow test. You may be given a peak flow meter to take home and a diary to record measurements of your peak flow. Your diary may also have a space to record your symptoms. This will help you recognise when your asthma is getting worse.

Food Intolerance Testing

Food intolerance is an adverse reaction to food you've eaten. It's rarely serious, but it can make you feel very unwell. The most common symptoms of food intolerance include bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, skin irritation and tiredness. But it's possible not to notice the symptoms for hours or even days, and they can be constant if you eat the food that's affecting you often. We will take a few drops of blood from a small pinprick to your finger. Your sample is tested for IgG antibodies, which your body makes more of when it's intolerant to food. The antibodies are then measured to work out which foods may be causing the reaction. Once your results are in, we'll ask you back to the store to discuss them and suggest ways you can change your diet to help you feel better.

Is food intolerance the same as food allergy?

No, allergies and intolerances are very different. A food allergy is a bad reaction to food that affects your immune system directly. If you have an allergy, you'll usually feel symptoms within a few minutes of coming into contact with the food. Symptoms include rashes, swelling and breathing difficulties which can be life threatening in some cases.

93 Food Test Cost: 255 euros.

Grains: Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Durum Wheat, Gliadin, Millet, Oat, Rice, Rye, Wheat.

Dairy: Cow's Milk, Egg White, Egg Yolk, Goat Milk, Sheep's Milk.

Meats: Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Turkey, Venison.

Fish: Lobster, Cod, Crab, Herring, Mackerel, Mussel, Plaice, Prawn, Salmon, Sole, Haddock, Tuna.

Vegetables: Aubergine, Avocado, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Bean (Red Kidney), Celery, Cucumber, Haricot Bean, Leek, Lentil, Lettuce, Onion, Pea, Peppers, Potato, Soya Bean, String Bean, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Chilli Pepper.

Fruit: Apple, Raspberry, Banana, Blackcurrant, Grape, Grapefruit, Kiwi Fruit, Lemon, Melon, Olive, Orange, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Blackberry, Strawberry.

Nuts: Almond, Brazil Nut, Cashew Nut, Coconut, Hazelnut, Peanut, Walnut.

Herbs/Spices: Garlic, Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper, Sesame Seeds.

Other: Vanilla, Carob, Cocoa Bean, Coffee, Mushroom, Rapeseed, Tea, Yeast (Bakers/Brewers)

40 Food Test Cost: 135 euros.

Grains: Oat, Rice, Rye, Wheat, Barley, Gliadin, Durum Wheat, Corn (Maize).

Dairy: Cows Milk, Egg White, Egg Yolk.

Meats: Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Turkey.

Fish: Cod, Crab, Haddock, Lobster, Plaice, Shrimp/Prawn.

Vegetables: Bean (red kidney), Bean (white haricot), Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Pea, Potato, Soya Bean.

Fruit: Apple, Blackberry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Orange, Pear, Raspberry, Strawberry.

Nuts: Almond, Cashew Nut, Hazelnut, Peanut.

Yeast: Yeast (baker's), Yeast (brewer's).

Nutritional Screening

Consultation with a natural medicine therapist on all aspects of health, including boosting immunity, digestive wellness, aches and pains, stress, moods and depression etc.

Coeliac Testing

Coeliac Disease (CD) is a permanent disease of the small intestine, caused by a reaction to the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. The intestinal lining is subjected to severe attack as a result of the gluten. The intestinal lining becomes leaky and loses its ability to absorb nutrients from food. Presenting Symptoms Include:

  • Abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, and bloating
  • Chronic digestive problems
  • Weight loss or poor weight gain
  • Depleted - anaemia, tiredness, and mouth ulcers etc.
  • Bloated with fluid retention
  • Thyroid disease is associated with coeliac disease
  • Depression is also associated with gluten sensitivity

The one word which summarised coeliac disease is "depleted". Most patients suffer years of chronic ill health before a diagnosis is made. In most cases the associated symptoms scream the loudest. Because the associated exhaustion, depression, thyroid disease etc, is so distressing, it receives all the attention and all of the treatment. Yet all the time the true cause goes undetected. You should really suspect CD if despite all the best treatment, your condition fails to improve. This is because the proper diagnosis has not been made. In truth, many thousands of people are but treating the associated symptoms.


The new blood antibody test is compelling evidence of CD. A follow-up intestinal biopsy may be performed for final confirmation.

Details of the new Coeliac Screen Test:

A great advantage of the new test for Coeliac Disease is that only a few pinprick drops of blood are required to do the analysis. Testing is simple and involves screening a blood sample for tissue Transglutaminase antibodies. A positive result is compelling evidence of Coeliac Disease.

Coeliac Screen Test:

1. Your practitioner will prick the finger with the safety lancet provided.

2. Capillary action will draw the required volume of blood into the micropipette.