Announcing FREE Heart Health Checks for 65+ year olds

The Key to Healthy Ageing is a Healthy Heart says Croí – Announcing FREE Heart Health Checks for 65+ year olds

The key to healthy ageing is a healthy heart. Understandably, aging naturally causes changes in the heart and blood vessels and these age-related changes often increase your risk of heart disease or stroke. People aged 65+ are much more likely than younger people to develop heart problems, but many of these conditions, if detected and treated early, can be managed so as to significantly reduce their impact on health and longevity.

In today’s world, thanks to medical and technological innovation, we are living longer. By the year 2050, 1 in 5 people worldwide will be over the age of 60 years of age. In fact, for the first time in human history we are close to a time when across the world there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 15. The Croí Third Age Programme is focused on our increasingly ageing society and the aim is to ensure that as we live longer we also maintain our health and quality of life. The greatest barrier to this is age-related cardiovascular diseases. That’s why on June 19th, local heart and stroke charity, Croí, is offering free heart health checks at the Croí Heart & Stroke Centre in Newcastle, Galway.

So, if you are over the age of 65, Not attending a cardiologist, and have Not had a heart health check in the past 6 months (e.g., blood pressure check / your heart listened to), then Croí invites you to this special FREE heart health check.

Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Location: Croí Heart & Stroke Centre, Newcastle, Galway

Places are limited and you must register in advance.
Time slots are available from 10:00am – 1:00pm and 2:00pm – 4:00pm.

Reserve your space now by calling Croí on 091-544310.

Awareness of heart failure remains low

Pictured l-r: Dr Fiona Ryan, director of clinical trials at The Heartbeat Trust; Frank O’Neill, patient at The Heartbeat Trust; Tom Dunne, national broadcaster and heart disease patient; Olive Cummins, general manager of the Heartbeat Trust and Dr Ambrose McLoughlin, chair of the Heartbeat Trust. Photograph: Bryan Brophy

Almost 200 people are diagnosed with heart failure every week in Ireland – that is 10,000 people per year – yet awareness of the condition remains low, the national heart failure charity, the Heartbeat Trust, has warned.

With heart failure, the heart does not work as efficiently as it should. As a result, the blood cannot deliver enough oxygen and nourishment to the body to allow it to work normally. Heart failure often develops because of another medical condition, such as a heart attack or high blood pressure.

Previous research carried out by the Heartbeat Trust found that over 7% of all hospital bed stays could be attributed to heart failure and the total annual cost of the condition is around €660 million.

The charity has partnered with the Galway heart charity, Croí, to raise awareness of heart failure. Both organisations are members of the Global Heart Hub, which recently launched the Red Flag campaign in Ireland. This aims to educate people on the five key symptoms of heart failure, which are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles or legs
  • Sudden weight gain (2kg over two days)
  • Poor appetite
  • Tiredness.

“Treatment aimed at managing heart failure is improving, however awareness remains a problem. This is why opportunities to raise public awareness about the main symptoms are so vital.

“The Red Flag campaign is designed to inform people that if they have some, or all of these symptoms, they should go to their GP. Ultimately, we know that the earlier we detect the onset of heart failure, the better the patient outcome,” explained the Heartbeat Trust’s medical director, Prof Ken McDonald.

The Red Flag campaign is supported by broadcaster and musician, Tom Dunne, who underwent serious heart surgery in November 2018.

“Having undergone such serious heart surgery so recently, and being told I had a 70% chance of dying in the next two years if I didn’t have the surgery immediately, I know only too well how important heart failure awareness is.

“I originally had a heart murmur diagnosed 10 years prior to my surgery and I also found out that I had a genetic heart condition. I had no existing heart failure symptoms from what I can recall, but knowing that there are five key red flag symptoms that people should recognise is really crucial for heart failure prevention,” Mr Dunne said.

Frank O’Neill attends the STOP HF Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. This is a screening service aimed at the prevention and early detection of heart failure.

“I was referred to the clinic in 2007 after seeing my GP who was treating me for diabetes. In 2011, as part of an annual check-up, I found out that I had experienced a silent myocardial infarction (heart attack).

“Over the years, a lot of trust has been built up between myself and the team. I feel like the screening service is my guardian angel and am very grateful that they are there. I think that heart failure prevention screening should be available everywhere,” Mr O’Neill said.

The Red Flag campaign was launched to coincide with European Heart Failure Awareness Month (May).

Article written by Deborah Condon and published 29/5/2019 in Irish Health Pro http://bit.ly/2I8xJDn

Michael’s Heart Failure Story

Michael Delapp is 69 years old. He lives in Clifden with his wife, Jane. He has two adult sons.

He is also living with heart failure.

Michael suffered a heart attack in 2005, causing permanent damage to the heart muscle. As a result, Michael had a stent fitted to help blood to flow freely, and subsequently was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is small electrical device that monitors the rhythm of your heartbeat. When it detects an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia) it works to restore the normal heartbeat.

Michael was diagnosed with heart failure very soon after the heart attack because of the damage this caused to his heart. He experienced the common symptoms of heart failure, including fatigue, shortness of breath when at rest and fluid retention.

He said his heart failure had a significant psychological impact on him. “I had been a powerful guy…after the heart attack, it was like I’d aged 50 years…It also had a huge impact on my family. I was no longer the invincible Dad. I really hit rock-bottom. Unfortunately when I left hospital I felt quite alone, I didn’t know where to turn.

I feel it’s very important for people to get as much information as possible on the condition, and on the support that’s available. Once I was put in touch with a heart failure Nurse Specialist, Mary O’Sullivan, I felt much better. She told me to forget the life I had, and to focus on the one I have now. That had a major impact on me – I realised I wouldn’t be able to recover if I didn’t accept where I was at.”

Michael went on to be referred by his doctor to Croí’s CLANN Programme, a specialised 10-week, healthy lifestyle initiative which aims to help individuals achieve a healthy weight and shape through physical activity and healthy eating.

Michael said the programme had a huge impact on his life. He was able to cut down his weight and he says it helped him build his confidence back up, as he had been afraid to exercise after his heart attack. He went on to say “I didn’t realise I could do as much as I could. Everyone was closely monitored, and your programme was individually tailored to you. Partaking in the programme helped me with my confidence, and with managing my diet and lifestyle. It also gave me much more independence.

In addition, it had a profound impact on my outlook. I now have a very positive mindset, and I’m much happier in myself. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t gotten some support.”

When asked if he had any advice for those experiencing symptoms, or those who have been recently diagnosed with heart failure, Michael said “Get as much information as you can… find out what’s available to you when you get diagnosed, it can make all the difference to how you feel going forward.”

Michael was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Michael is raising the flag on heart failure this May.

Raise the Flag

“Get as much information as you can… find out what’s available to you when you get diagnosed, it can make all the difference to how you feel going forward.”

Marc’s Heart Failure Story

Marc is 44 years old. He lives in Roscommon, near Carrick on Shannon, with his wife Geraldine and their two children who are 10 and 5 years old. He now works as a Surveyor, but used to work for Irish Rail as a breakdown mechanic.

He is also living with heart failure.

Marc suffered a suspected stroke in 2009, and was then diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy in 2011 – aged just 36. He subsequently developed heart failure.

Marc’s first symptom of heart failure was a feeling of fatigue. “At the time I was working in a very physical job, and had to travel a lot for work – sometimes working 60 hours a week. This meant I was away from home a lot, staying in hotels and eating on the go. I don’t think it was a very healthy lifestyle, and thought that was why I was feeling so tired.”

Marc was fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) to treat the underlying problem that led to heart failure. The ICD monitors Marc’s heart rhythm and paces the heart or shocks it back into a normal rhythm. “My life has changed a lot since my diagnosis. I have had to change jobs, and it’s been difficult with a young family. But I’m feeling much better now with the ICD, it has improved my symptoms.” 

When asked in he had any advice for those experiencing symptoms of heart failure, he said “Go to the doctor. I didn’t until I was in a bad way, I thought I had just been working too hard and was feeling tired. If you’re worried – speak to your doctor.”

Marc was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Marc is raising the flag on heart failure this May

Raise the Flag

“Go to the doctor. I didn’t until I was in a bad way, I thought I had just been working too hard and was feeling tired. If you’re worried – speak to your doctor.”

Kay’s Heart Failure Story

Kay Flynn is 67 years old. She lives in Sligo with her husband, Michael, where she worked as a registrar for the HSÉ. She has two grown up children and one grandchild.

She is also living with heart failure.

Kay had a heart incident in November 2012, while on her lunch break from work. She went into cardiac arrest on her way into the hairdressers and was in an induced coma for three days. Following on from this incident, Kay was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Because of the damaged caused by the cardiac arrest, Kay then went on to develop heart failure.

As part of her treatment for Cardiomyopathy, Kay was fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator). Both of Kay’s children also have this condition, with her son experiencing a very similar cardiac arrest aged 42, for which he was subsequently fitted with an ICD. Her daughter was then fitted with an ICD as a precautionary measure.

Kay experienced no symptoms prior to her cardiac arrest, and doesn’t recall experiencing symptoms of heart failure prior to her diagnosis. She had been ill with cancer two years prior to her cardiac arrest, and had received chemotherapy. Kay also had a family history of heart problems, with both of her parents dying from heart incidents.

When asked if she had any advice for those experiencing symptoms or worried about heart failure, she said “Go and get checked – if you have any symptoms, even if you might think they’re innocent – get checked. I would especially urge those with a family history or more than one symptom to get checked immediately.”

Kay is currently doing a cardiac rehab course in Sligo – and is now feeling much better thanks to the care she has received, though she does still experience some symptoms, such as breathlessness.

Kay Flynn was interviewed by Croí on her experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Kay is raising the flag on heart failure this May

Raise the Flag

“Go and get checked – if you have any symptoms, even if you might think they’re innocent – get checked. I would especially urge those with a family history or more than one symptom to get checked immediately.”`

David’s Heart Failure Story

David Best is 79 years old. He lives in Sligo with his wife, Dympna, where he worked in banking and went on to become a company representative for a financial company. He has five grown up children and two grandchildren.

He is also living with heart failure.

Prior to having a triple bypass in 2004, he was very active, “I’d cycle 50 miles up to the mountains in Sligo. I also loved to swim. After the operation, I managed to keep up the swimming.”

“It all came as a surprise. I was having a medical done and was sent for a scan and they discovered I had 3 blocked arteries. After I came out of the operation I was a new man – it was like a re-birth.”

Because of the damage to his heart muscle, David went on to develop heart failure. Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.

When asked if he had any advice for anyone experiencing symptoms of heart failure, he said, “I would say to anyone experiencing any symptoms to go and get checked sooner rather than later. You might think some of the symptoms are innocent. Just get it checked out.”

He continued, “Men are desperate at getting checked when they think there’s a problem… you make excuses. I thought how I was feeling was a normal part of getting older. I worked in a high-pressure job and I was very busy with work. I think that’s why I didn’t take much notice of how I was feeling.”

He continued,  “It suddenly hits you that it’s having an impact on your family too. They worry about you. That’s why I enjoy going to heart failure support classes and meeting other people who have had similar experiences. You build up a bond and it has helped me build my confidence back up.”

David Best was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

David Best is raising the flag on heart failure this May.

Raise the Flag

“I would say to anyone experiencing any symptoms to go and get checked sooner rather than later. You might think some of the symptoms are innocent. Just get it checked out.”

Attracta’s Story

Attracta is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Heart Failure, working in Sligo University Hospital. When asked why she chose to specialise in heart failure, she answered “I’ve always been interested in the heart. I was working in coronary care, and decided to specialise in heart failure.”

She continued “I understand it can be very worrying for people living with heart failure – but in my experience, if people get the right support – and there is support out there – patients can live full lives. It’s so important for heart failure patients to have that outlet. There are support groups people can join, and we also have a support line where patients can ring into the clinic if they have any questions. We’ve been running the support group in Sligo for around four years now, and this has been hugely advantageous to our patients.”

“I’m raising the flag this May to let people know there is a lot of help and support out there – don’t be afraid to ask for it.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, don’t wait. Go and get checked immediately. It’s important to get diagnosed in order to receive the right package of care. It’s important once you have your diagnosis to reach out for support– join a support group, find out what’s available in your area. A lot of our patients also do modified exercise classes, and this can make a big difference to how you’re feeling.”

Attracta Madden was interviewed as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Attracta Madden is raising the flag on heart failure this May.

Raise the Flag

It’s important to get diagnosed in order to receive the right package of care.

University Hospital Galway Raise the Flag on Heart Failure this May

Pictured from left: Annette Irving, Irish Heart Failure Alliance; Dr. John Barton, Heart Failure Consultant, GUH; Mary O’Sullivan, Heart Failure Clinical Nurse Specialist, GUH; Geraldine Murray, Director of Nursing, GUH; Emer Burke, Clinical Nurse Specialist, GUH; Liam Martin, Irish Heart Failure Alliance.

Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity visited University Hospital Galway with the Heart Failure Patient Alliance on May 10th to mark the launch of #RaisetheFlag, a campaign to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. For those experiencing symptoms, we encourage them to visit their GP and ask the question “Could I have heart failure?” For more information, please visit www.globalhearthub.org/raisetheflag

Local Medtech Company Announces Community Partnership

Pictured from left: Teresa Murray, HR Manager, Surmodics; Tom Greaney, COO, Surmodics; Kevin O’Reilly, Chairman, Croí; Gary Maharaj, CEO, Surmodics; Teri Sides, Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Surmodics; and Patricia Hall, Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist, Croí. Pic Gerry Stronge.


Ballinasloe based leading medical devices company Surmodics have just announced a unique community partnership with local heart and stroke charity, Croí. Commencing this year and continuing for the next five years, Surmodics have committed a significant financial contribution to Croí by way of support for Croí’s out-of-hospital stroke support programme.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In Ireland, an estimated 10,000 people have a stroke-related event every year with as many as 7,000 per year requiring hospitalisation. There are an estimated 30,000 people living in the community with disability as a result of stroke, making it the biggest cause of acquired disability in Ireland.

Since opening its centre five years ago in Newcastle Galway, Croí has broadened its mission to include stroke. Over the past few years Croí has been developing out-of-hospital supports for stroke survivors and their carers. Tom Greaney, Chief Operating Officer at Surmodics, commented:

“We look forward to working closely with Croí to help build their out-of-hospital stroke support programme. This partnership is a fantastic opportunity for Surmodics to support Croí’s mission to prevent disease, save lives and promote wellbeing, a mission that Surmodics as an organisation also shares. We are proud to support Croí and play a part in the great work that they do for our community,” says Greaney.

Welcoming the Surmodics 5-year pledge to support Croí, Kevin O’Reilly, Chairman of Croí, said “We are indebted to Surmodics for this very generous and significant commitment. We aim to utilise this contribution by developing and expanding our stroke survivor post-hospital discharge support offerings in the area of education, carer support, risk factor management, survivor empowerment, and communications rehabilitation.

We aim to facilitate monthly community stroke support meetings in Galway and Mayo and we plan to design, develop and test an evidence based self-management and self-care programme to help stroke survivors live the best possible life they can.”


Mr O’Reilly went on to say that “In recent years, there have been significant advances made in hospital-based stroke care with many more people today surviving a stroke.

The significant needs of stroke survivors and their carers post hospital discharge however are very varied, and unfortunately at both a local and national level, community based supports are greatly in need of resources.

Stroke survivors have huge needs in term of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychological support and Croí’s efforts in this regard are in early stage development.

This generous gift from Surmodics will greatly assist our work in this regard and will make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of people impacted by stroke in our community. We are indebted to the management and staff at Surmodics for partnering with us on this important work, and it is great to see a successful local company getting involved in their local community in this way.”

Gerald’s Heart Failure Story

Gerald McTernan is 72 years old. He lives in Leitrim with his wife Nora, where he worked for the ESB and used to farm. He has two adult children as well as two grandchildren.

He is also living with heart failure.

Gerald had open heart surgery in September 2014. Subsequently while in for a check-up, he complained of shortness of breath and fluid retention – and has now been diagnosed with heart failure. 

He continued, “I was very strong, which meant I recovered. I used to play football, tug of war and I did weight lifting. I also worked on my farm which kept me fit. This illness has been very hard on me, it changed everything. Having to travel to Galway and Dublin for treatment and surgeries was very hard on my family, especially my wife.”

When asked if he had any advice for anyone experiencing symptoms of heart failure, Gerald added; “Get checked. Don’t put it off. I was relatively healthy and I didn’t smoke, so I wasn’t expecting it. It’s also very important you have a good doctor that you trust… that made all the difference.”

Gerald McTernan was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Gerald is raising the flag on heart failure this month as part of the 'Red Flag Campaign'

Raise the Flag

“Get checked. Don’t put it off. I was relatively healthy and I don’t smoke, so I wasn’t expecting it. It’s also very important you have a good doctor that you trust… that made all the difference.”