A report published today in Galway, Thursday September 29th, (World Heart Day) by the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology reveals that pioneering work being undertaken by the Heart & Stroke Charity Croi in preventing heart attacks and strokes is not only delivering significant health benefits but is also proven to be cost effective and cost saving.
The Croi MyAction Programme which has been up and running for the past 5 years in Galway is a gold standard chronic disease prevention programme, designed and delivered to achieve the latest European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines for risk reduction. To-date, over 1,100 west of Ireland people (617 high risk individuals and their partners) have benefitted from this community based prevention programme and the results of this work make a compelling case for Irish health service investment in prevention.
An independent health economic evaluation funded by Healthy Ireland and conducted to assess the costs and benefits of the Croi intervention convincingly demonstrates that the programme delivers value for money with every €1 invested generating on average €8 in benefits -demonstrating for the first time in Ireland that prevention does work and investing in prevention can deliver economic as well as health gains.
Since the programme was established in Galway in 2009, Croi has invested over €700,000 ( largely funded through the charity’s own fundraising efforts) in delivering the 12-16 week intervention ‘free of charge’ to those who most need it and the evidence now shows that this investment has yielded benefits in the order of €4.8m. The report shows that the Croi programme beats usual care by delivering both improvement in life-years gained and significant health cost savings.
The Croi prevention programme which is uniquely a community based, family centred intervention delivered by a multidisciplinary team (nurse specialists, dieticians, physiotherapist/physical activity specialist and physician) is an intensive lifestyle and risk factor reduction programme where all patients and an accompanying family member are assessed at the start of the programme, on programme completion and again at 1 year.
The health benefits achieved by participants are impressive and include:
- A smoking quit rate of 51% , the impact of which equates to a 50% reduction in cardiac events.
- Greater adherence to the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ which is directly linked to a reduction in risk of heart attack and stroke.
- An increase in physical activity targets from 13% to 52% which equates to upwards of a 30% reduction in cardiac events.
- An average weight reduction of 3.7kg
- An increase in achievement of recommended blood pressure targets from 55% to 74% which yields a 20-35% reduction in heart attack and stroke.
- An increase in achievement of recommended cholesterol targets from 39% to 70% which reduces cardiovascular mortality by up to 15%
** All these outcome measures are obtained by objective measurement eg: blood tests, functional capacity test, BP measurement, smoke check carbon monoxide test.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Croi’s Director of Prevention Programmes, Irene Gibson said “ these results point to a new way of reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. The Croi programme shows how our health service could be reshaped. With adequate investment, we could move from a reactive service which is overly reliant on acute hospital care and expensive cardiac procedures to a more proactive preventive model utilising community programmes as a third tier of healthcare” She went on to say that “the Croi programme is an excellent demonstration of how best practice guidelines can be translated into everyday clinical practice. Empowering people through an individualised approach to behaviour and lifestyle change is the key. However, there is a huge training need among healthcare professionals to equip them with the skills necessary to support and facilitate often complex lifestyle and behaviour change”
The Galway programme was recently selected as Ireland’s exemplar of best practice in chronic disease management and recommended to CHRODIS, a European platform that aims to identify, exchange and disseminate good practice in chronic disease management across Europe.
Croi, the west of Ireland Cardiac Foundation was established in Galway in 1985 and since then has been leading the fight against heart disease & stroke in the west of Ireland. In 2012, the Foundation opened the Croi Heart & Stroke Centre in Galway, being the first centre of its kind in Ireland dedicated to the development and testing of cardiovascular disease prevention initiatives and the promotion of recovery & wellbeing. In 2015, there were 26,406 visits to the centre and almost 12,000 individuals provided with health support through a wide range of training and education programmes across the region.
The National Institute for Preventive Cardiology was established by Croi as an affiliate of NUI Galway in 2014. The Institute aims to produce a new generation of scholars and leaders in cardiovascular health and disease prevention. The NIPC provides a portfolio of educational and training programmes in the prevention and control of heart disease, stroke, diabetes & obesity. This portfolio includes programmes designed specifically to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce in terms of continuous professional development including a range of formal postgraduate qualifications.