Islanders come out in force to make health a priority

A series of free Healthy Ireland health and wellbeing days were delivered across Inis Oírr, Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inishbofin islands over the past month, with great attendance from Islanders and involvement from the local schools.

Over 200 people took part in the events, which included health screenings (pulse, blood pressure, weight, and BMI checks); healthy cooking tips and Q&A discussions with a Croí Dietitian and residents of the islands about changing dietary habits and impact on health; yoga; relationship and sexual health education; resources on mental health and wellness; exercise and fitness tips; citizen information advice; and more.

“This initiative was a coming together of diverse community groups all with a unified aim to promote health and well-being throughout the islands off County Galway. It was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle across all age groups. The good news is that many health conditions such as heart disease and stroke are preventable and our aim is to offer individuals the opportunity to engage in risk factor screening along with offering practical advice in relation to healthy eating, physical activity, overall health and wellness and lots more,” says Suzanne Seery, Lead Dietitian, Croí.

Healthy Ireland is a Government-led initiative which aims to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society. The series of health and wellbeing events on the Islands were supported by Galway County LCDC’s Healthy County Galway initiative. Many community and voluntary organisations were present. These included Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity; Galway Rural Development, Healthy Ireland at your Library; Western Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce; Galway Sports Partnership; Galway Citizen Information Centre; Irish Rural Link; Pieta House; and AIDS West. The Healthy Ireland Fund is supported by the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Pictured: Members of the Healthy Islands team, made up of 10+ community groups from across county Galway.

After Croí’s visit to Inisbofin, our Dietitian Suzanne and placement student Christine received a lovely note from the students at Inishbofin National School, and are delighted to see that they had fun learning about healthy eating!

“We learnt so much about healthy eating, and we will keep all the information you told us for the rest of our lives.” 

25 years of cycling the Corrib in aid of Croí

Pictured at the launch of the 25th Annual Tour de Lough Corrib Cycle, in aid of Croí. From left, Christine Flanagan, Croí Fundraising Director; Paddy Keating, long-time Croí Cycle participant; Mary Cullinane, Corrib Oil; and Bernard Dempsey, Corrib Oil. Image credit: Johnny Ryan Photography.

It’s time to dust off your bike saddle and get in gear as registration is now open for the 25th Annual Tour de Lough Corrib cycle, in aid of Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity. The Croí charity cycle takes place on Sunday, June 9th, 2019 around Lough Corrib, in association with long-time sponsor Corrib Oil, the cycle’s main sponsor for 25 years running!

This is the biggest charity cycle in the West of Ireland, and promises to be even bigger and better this year to celebrate 25 years!

All abilities are welcome – cyclists will have a choice of a 45km, 80km or a 120km route. The cycle starts from the sports pavilion in Dangan and will take the route via Headford, Cong, Maam Valley, Oughterard, back to Galway, finishing at Croí House. Roadside assistance, support vehicles and plenty of refreshment stops will be provided on the day, along with a post-cycle celebration event in Croí House. Enter as an individual cyclist or get a team together, with group photographs happening at Croí House after the event.

“It’s incredible that this year we are celebrating the 25th cycle, and we have so many long-time cyclists that have been with us from the beginning,” says Christine Flanagan, Croí Fundraising Director. “It’s a fun cycle along a great route, and all abilities are welcome to join us. Every euro raised helps our team to continue our work here at Croí, leading the fight against heart disease and stroke in the West of Ireland.”

Registration is free and essential at, and cyclists are asked to fundraise for Croí. All cyclists will receive a technical t-shirt. Cyclists that reach a fundraising goal of €150+ will receive a specially designed 25th anniversary cycle jersey and entered into a raffle to win a fantastic bike package to the value of €1,000! Take part in this special 25th anniversary event and help Croí lead the fight against heart disease and stroke.

Learn more at or call Croí on 091-544310 to register now.

Wife saved husband’s life thanks to Croí CPR training

April 19, 2019 – Repost from The Galway Advertiser. Written by Mary O’Connor

A family carer who completed a training course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR ) saved her husband’s life a month later when he suffered a major heart attack at their home in Galway.

The woman contacted the organisers of the Heartsaver CPR AED training initiative for family carers after the event to thank them for providing her with the necessary lifesaving skills.

She stated that her husband had been discharged from hospital after having experienced a STEMI, a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries, that supplies oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle, is blocked. This requires immediate medical attention.

The carer said that if she had not attended the course she would have disregarded his symptoms, probably passing them off as indigestion, and would have gone back to sleep. This according to her husband’s consultant would have had fatal consequences for her spouse.

Outlining the story, Michelle Harrison, the project lead and the co-ordinator of the carers’ department of Community Healthcare West, said she knows from feedback she has received from participants on the CPR AED training course, which is funded by the HSE Carers Department and delivered in partnership with the local heart and stroke charity Croí, that it has saved lives.

The training course, which is open to family carers, is being delivered in Galway since 2011 and was the overall winner in the Innovative Project Category at the inaugural HSE Community Healthcare West Staff Recognition Awards. The local health authority is the only HSE area providing this life-saving training to family carers in Ireland.

The courses are designed to teach family carers about CPR and the relief of foreign-body airway obstruction in adults, children and infants, together with the use of automated external defibrillation (AED ). These are lightweight, portable devices which deliver an electric shock through the chest to the heart which can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia ) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arres.

Successful participants receive a certificate in adult, child and infant CPR and AED, with management of choking, which is certified by the American Heart Association.

Ms Harrison said that when a person collapses with sudden cardiac arrest, every second is vital. “Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death in many cases. For every minute a person is collapsed without receiving CPR or defibrillation, the person’s chance of survival is reduced by up to 10 per cent per minute. After five minutes, the person’s chance of survival is reduced by up to 50 per cent.

“The Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest register in Ireland found that two-thirds of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurred at home in Ireland in 2017 and three-quarters of incidents occurred in a private setting (ie, home, farm, or residential institution ). Research has shown that CPR and AED can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival and that people who have completed a CPR AED course are 10 times more likely to respond in such an emergency.”

She outlined that the role of lay persons in the internationally recognised chain of survival is well acknowledged, and includes, early recognition, immediate effective CPR, and rapid defibrillation.

“It takes a whole system to save a life, and this training initiative spearheaded by the HSE Carers Department and Croí, is integral to ensuring that family carers are key contributors to this whole system approach to save a life. In the past seven year period, we have delivered a total of 90 certified courses to nearly 1,000 family carers in Galway.”

The HSE Carers Department, Community Healthcare West is currently accepting applications from family carers in Galway for this training. Further Heartsaver CPR AED courses will be delivered this year free to family carers in partnership with Croí. To find out more or to request an application form contact the HSE Carers Department at (091 ) 546133.

Croí CPR training saves lives!

Contact us now to learn more about our CPR training programme at

Making changes for life – Terry’s story

One of the programmes here at Croí is a Phase IV Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme, designed to provide ongoing support and motivation to individuals with cardiovascular disease to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.

Terry Small is a dedicated member of Croí’s Phase IV programme and joins us every Tuesday for exercise at Croí House. Terry was referred to Croí after having a stent inserted. He started with Croí’s Active Heart Cardiac Rehab programme back in 2017, before continuing on with the Phase IV class.

“I wasn’t doing much exercise before…You can get lazy when you’re retired! My wife used to go for walks on her own, but now I love joining her and getting out for some fresh air and exercise. Now I am as fit as I can be,” says Terry.

“It’s been a lifestyle change. I’m not a worrier and I just enjoy life. I’ve started relearning how to play the piano, and for me, exercise was like learning an instrument. You have to practice and you have to be patient. Consistency is key!”

The team at Croí are so proud of Terry’s journey to a healthy lifestyle. Terry even took part in Croí’s Annual 5km Night Run last year, “I love showing off my medal… I hadn’t won a medal in 40 years!”

“I look forward to Tuesday and coming to Croí…it’s an excellent facility, I can’t praise it enough.”

Well done, Terry! We look forward to seeing you again on Tuesday.

Terry Small, left, pictured with fellow programme participant, Darach Flanagan.

Heart Valve Disease – a brief introduction

Written by Croí’s Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist, Patricia Hall

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for all types of disease that affect the heart and blood vessels. Most commonly it refers to coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke. However, there are other heart conditions that can affect your heart’s valves, muscle or rhythm.

Heart valve disease is when one or more of the valves in your heart become diseased or damaged, preventing them from opening or closing properly. You have 4 valves in your heart (2 on the right, 2 on the left) that keep blood flowing in the right direction.

These valves can be affected in 2 ways:

  1. the valve area can become narrowed, not opening fully and causing an obstruction or blockage to the flow of blood. This is called valve stenosis; or
  2. the valve may not close properly allowing blood to flow backwards in the wrong direction. This is called valve regurgitation or incompetence.

Common causes of heart valve disease include congenital heart birth defects, infections and degeneration over time. Due to wear and tear or high blood pressure, the prevalence increases with ageing.

You may not experience any symptoms of heart valve disease for many years or they may seem vague and non-specific.

Common symptoms can include:

  • shortness of breath particularly on exertion;
  • fatigue or feeling excessively tired;
  • swelling of the ankles;
  • chest pain or tightness;
  • dizziness or fainting.

Sometimes valve disease is only discovered when your doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope and hears an abnormal heart murmur (heart sound).

Many people with heart valve disease can live a normal life for many years, with little treatment. In some cases the valve may need to be repaired or replaced. This depends on which of the valves is affected, the severity of your condition and if it is getting worse. Increased awareness and early detection of this condition can mean heart valve disease is entirely treatable. Lifestyle changes and medicines often can treat symptoms successfully and delay problems for many years. Eventually, though, you may need surgery or a less invasive procedure to repair or replace the damaged valve.

Remember, heart disease – and heart valve disease in particular – is easier to treat when detected early, so keep an eye on our website for a full article on heart valve disease coming shortly.