Galway is going red for World Heart Day!

We’re lighting Galway up red for World Heart Day! 🚨

This Sunday, September 29, Bon Secours Hospital Galway; The Browne Doorway in Eyre Square; Kylemore Abbey; and the Human Biology Building in NUI, Galway will be illuminated in red to celebrate World Heart Day 2019 in association with Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity.

If you see any of these sites all lit up, be sure to take a selfie and tag @croiheartstroke with the hashtag #WorldHeartDay! Let us know what promise you’re making for your heart with the hashtag #HeartHero. ❤️

Tag us in your #WorldHeartDay posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @CroiHeartStroke

#MyHeartYourHeart | #HeartHeroes | #WorldHeartDay2019 | #GalwayNews | #GalwayEvents

Be a Croí Heart Hero and make a promise for your heart

We can all be Heart Heroes by making a promise, to ourselves and those we care about, to look after our hearts.

The team at the Croí Heart & Stroke Centre in Newcastle, Galway, encouraged the people of Galway to make an important promise for their heart health in celebration of World Heart Day on September 29th. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, and approximately 10,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease in Ireland.

With sign-sheets scattered across Galway in locations such as University Hospital Galway, Bon Secours, NUI Galway and Galway City Council, the Croí Team gathered almost 2,000 signatures from Heart Heroes who promised to make a change for their hearts!

Some of the promises included:

  • A promise to your families to cook and eat more healthily;
  • A promise to your children to exercise more and help them to be more active, to say no to smoking and help your loved ones to stop;
  • A promise as a healthcare professional to help your patients give up smoking and lower their cholesterol;
  • A promise as a policymaker to support policies that promote healthy hearts;
  • A promise as an employee to invest in heart-healthy workplaces.

You can become a Heart Hero at any time by making a promise to make a change for your heart health!

Galway goes red for World Heart Day!

In the lead up to World Heart Day, Bon Secours Hospital Galway; The Browne Doorway in Eyre Square;  the Human Biology Building in NUI, Galway; and Kylemore Abbey were lit up red – in association with Croí!

On September 29th, The Croí Health team were in Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, to take part in a special World Heart Day event, with the Abbey lighting red in celebration! The Health Team offered free blood pressure and pulse checks, and took part in a guided hike to the Sacred Heart Statue along with other heart heroes.

Mitchell’s Café, who are renowned for their wholesome home cooking, also took part by serving a special heart healthy menu on the day. Many became Croí Heart Heroes by making their heart healthy promise, joined by Mitchell’s Sous Chef Dolores Heanue, who recently recovered from a major coronary event.

Heart Valve Disease Week at Croí!

It was a busy time for Croí this European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week!

Team Croí were out and about in the West of Ireland with our Heart Valve Disease stand, conducting surveys on heart valve disease awareness amongst the public and providing information on the risks, diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease. Over 300 surveys were collected which will go on to inform our work and awareness of heart valve disease in Ireland. We also identified several new and engaged patients who will join our heart valve disease patient advocates.

The burden of heart valve disease is rising as a consequence of our ageing population and increased life expectancy. About 1 in 40 adults in the general population are affected and this rises to over 1 in 10 in those over the age of 75 years. This means that heart valve disease is as common as heart failure, yet this is not widely appreciated. The goal of European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week is to raise awareness on the prominence of heart valve disease and to encourage people to get checked for symptoms of it.

Visit Croí’s information page to learn more about heart valve disease.

Croí’s Boost to Medical Training at NUI Galway

The use of a stethoscope remains a key step in detecting heart problems, especially heart murmurs and Heart Valve Disease. Local heart & stroke charity Croí is leading the way nationally in raising awareness of Heart Valve Disease as part of ‘European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week’ which takes place from September 16th – 22nd.

To mark the 2019 awareness week, Croí is presenting the School of Medicine, NUI Galway, with the latest technology for teaching the skills of stethoscope examination.

Pictured right, at the presentation by Croí of a SAM high fidelity cardiorespiratory auscultation simulator to the School of Medicine were, from left: Mr. Mike Smith, Clinical Skills and Simulation Technician; Prof. Gerard Flaherty, Programme Director for Undergraduate Medicine and the MSc in Preventive Cardiology; Mr. Neil Johnson, CEO of Croí; and Mr. Kevin O’Reilly, Chairperson of the Croí Board.

Image credit: Joe Shaughnessy

Croí’s Boost to Medical Training at NUI Galway (2)

European heart valve disease awareness week highlights the life and death difference a diagnosis makes

Don’t mistake heart valve disease symptoms for old age urge heart medics

4-year-old Katie Jane English is playing doctor with her grandfather, Jim Logan, and asking him to look out for the signs of Heart Valve Disease.

Top heart doctors are urging patients to know and look out for the symptoms of Heart Valve Disease and ask their GP for help in a Croí, the heart & stroke charity, campaign launched today, marking European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week.

Symptoms such as breathlessness, dizziness, swelling of hands or feet and fatigue are sometimes mistaken to be old age when in fact they are symptoms of Heart Valve Disease (HVD).

A diseased valve can either be repaired or replaced by surgical or less invasive procedures and the patient goes on to have a more positive health outlook as a result.

However, 50% of those with the most severe form of Heart Valve Disease – aortic stenosis – will die within 2 years if not diagnosed and promptly and appropriately treated.

Irish research shows that only 4% of the target age-group (55+) knew of Heart Valve Disease.  Those interviewed were ten times more likely to be concerned about heart attack and stroke than they would be about Heart Valve Disease (11.9% and 10.4% respectively compared to 1.4%).

While HVD can impact younger people in their 40s and 50s, aging is a primary factor, and generally the incidence of HVD increases from age 70 onwards.

Symptoms are often confused or misinterpreted as normal signs of aging.  These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Swelling of ankles and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat
  • Heart murmur

Croí is encouraging those in the 65+ age group to be aware of these signs and symptoms and if experiencing them, to visit their GP and ask ‘could it be Heart Valve Disease?’.

“GPs can easily identify a potential issue through a stethoscope examination and research shows that approximately one third of GPs do this as a matter of course.  However, some don’t, so if you’re over 65 and concerned by symptoms, be proactive, go to your GP and ask for a stethoscope check at least once a year” said Dr Darren Mylotte, Consultant Cardiologist, Galway University Hospital and Senior Lecturer, NUIG.

The treatments for HVD are in many cases less of an ordeal than the heart surgery of former years.  In some cases, valves can be repaired and replaced either minimally invasively through a 4-5cm incision or via a catheter through an artery in the leg.  Recovery is much less painful and swifter as a result.

“The landscape of heart valve surgery has changed significantly, even in the last few years. Technology is continually allowing us to reduce the risk and pain to our patients, which in turn reduces fears related to treating a condition such as HVD.  GPs who communicate this to their patients tend to help significantly with the patient’s apprehension around seeking treatment” said Dr Samer Arnous, Coronary and Structural Interventional Cardiologist.

“Self-awareness is so important. The patient plays a significant role in his/her own treatment pathway. People should not dismiss or ignore symptoms and warning signs and simply attribute them to ‘old age’. It is vital that you discuss any concerns that you may have with your GP. Sometimes we see patients that are just too sick to treat but had they been diagnosed when they first became symptomatic, the prognosis may just have been more positive,” said Mr. Alan Soo, Lead Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgery at Galway University Hospital.

Through the European Heart Valve Awareness Week (September 16-22), Croí – the heart and stroke charity – is highlighting the prevalence of HVD amongst the 65+ age group in a bid to help patients reach and enjoy their third age with good health.  For further information please visit

“It’s crucial that both GPs and patients understand the symptoms.  Knowledge is empowering for the patient, allowing them to make informed and timely decisions which could clearly improve their health outlook for a number of years,” said Neil Johnson, CEO, Croí.

Galway Night Run: Race The Prom In Aid Of Croí

Galway Night Run: Everyone welcome to race the Prom, in aid of Croí

Terry Small from Castlegar, Galway, is busy training for his second Croí Night Run, having completed his first 5km Night Run last year. “I really enjoyed it! I jogged half the distance and then walked the rest. I hadn’t won a medal in years… I love showing it off,” says Small.

Terry was referred to Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, in 2017 after having a stent inserted following a heart attack. He started with Croí’s Active Heart Cardiac Rehab programme and now continues to attend Croí’s exercise programmes every Tuesday. “I wasn’t doing much exercise before, but now I am as fit as I can be,” says Small.

The Annual Galway Night Run in aid of Croí is one of the charity’s biggest fundraising events and it caters for all ages and abilities (competitive runners, family walkers, beginner joggers, etc.). Join Terry and his two daughters for the Night Run on Friday, October 11 at 8pm on the Salthill Prom. This year promises to be even bigger and better to celebrate the 5th anniversary, with music and entertainment at the start and finish line. The run will be chipped timed and everyone will receive a medal!

Thanks to the support of our sponsor Evergreen Healthfoods and media partner iRadio, 100% of the proceeds go directly to supporting Croí services and supports in the community. This includes heart and stroke prevention and recovery programmes, education and training programmes, and supporting the Courtyard Apartments at Croí House which offer free accommodation and support for the relatives of those receiving heart or stroke care at Galway University Hospitals.

Regular entry is €35, with discounted entry for students, youth and over 65s. Under 12s are welcome for free, but strictly must be under the supervision of an adult. Registration is open at Join us and help Croí continue to lead the fight against heart disease and stroke in the West of Ireland.

The Story Of My Heart

By Pearl O’Kennedy

Pearl is 80 years old and lives with her husband on Rahoon Road in Galway. They have six children and 12 grandchildren.

“10 years ago, following a visit to my GP, I was diagnosed with a murmur in my heart. As it wasn’t causing any problems, I was kept under supervision. For the next few years, my heart was checked every six months, then every three months – during which time I had started to feel a little breathless.

One day, last October, I was going to have an angiogram. When the procedure was over, the doctor sat me down and told me that I needed to have a valve replaced in my heart – the aortic valve. I was sent for a scan the following week to determine if I would have to undergo open-heart surgery. When I met with my doctor to get more tests done, he explained that he had been working on a new type of valve. After showing me diagrams of the valves and explaining how they work – as well as the potential complications – he asked if I would be prepared to let him use one on me. He told me that this would be the first time this particular valve would be used in Europe. After some hesitation, I agreed to let him use the new valve.

A month later, I had the valve replaced. It was a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVI) and I was conscious throughout it all. The procedure lasted for a little over two hours, during which time a nurse stayed beside my head. When it was over, I was transferred to a warm bed and given some medication to help me sleep. When I woke up, I was back in the Cardiac Ward. I felt good and was discharged three days later.

I got home before Christmas and had a lovely time. However, I did notice my hearing had started to deteriorate. Following a visit to the doctor, I was told that I had lost 50% of my hearing. After having hearing aids ordered for me, I learned that hearing loss is something that can happen a person if they’ve had work done on their heart.

Earlier this year, I received a letter from Galway University Hospital asking me to attend an eight-week cardiac rehabilitation programme in Merlin Hospital. This entailed going to the Cardiac Unit two days a week where we did light workouts such as cycling, rowing, walking, and weight lifting. We were also given talks on diet and other general health topics. There were six men and two women in attendance and I was surprised to see some very young men there. When the eight weeks were over, I started to go back to my own gym. Now, I go twice a week. I spend half an hour on the machines and forty-five minutes doing water-aerobics. Life is good now and although I’m still coming to terms with having to use hearing aids, they are becoming part of my life.

Thank God, my heart is good.”


Pearl O'Kennedy

Croí is taking part in European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week (September 16 – 22, 2019), which aims to raise awareness and improve diagnosis, treatment and management of heart valve disease in Europe. #HeartValveWeek19 See for more information.

Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week

Heart valve disease is becoming more common as a consequence of our ageing population and increased life expectancy. About 1 in 40 adults in the general population are affected and this rises to over 1 in 10 in those over the age of 75 years. This means that heart valve disease is as common as heart failure, yet this is not widely appreciated.

From September 16th – 22nd 2019, Croí will be taking part in European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week. This week aims to raise awareness and improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of heart valve disease in Europe.


Heart Valve Week events:

Our ‘Street doc’ will be out in the West of Ireland for #HeartValveWeek19 with an information booth on heart valve disease! Come say hello and learn more about heart valve disease at the following locations:

    • Monday, September 16th from 11 – 3pm: Eyre Square Centre, Galway
    • Tuesday, September 17th from 11 – 3pm: Supervalu, Castlebar
    • Wednesday, September 18th from 11 – 3pm: Molloys Pharmacy Harrisson Centre, Roscommon
    • Friday, September 20th from 11 – 3pm, Ballinasloe Credit Union, Galway


To learn more about heart valve disease, click here.

Global Coalition on Aging Welcomes Attention to Heart Failure at 2019 European Society of Cardiology Congress

Croí are partners in the GCOA Alliance on Heart Failure

Beginning Saturday, August 31st, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) together with the World Congress of Cardiology (WCC) will highlight the impact of heart failure (HF) on older adults in select sessions during its 2019 Congress. The Congress’ attention on HF will include the launch of a Roadmap for Heart Failure created by the World Heart Federation, which provides a framework for policymakers, innovators, scientists, providers, patients, payers, and others to guide national initiatives to improve health outcomes and cost savings related to HF.

“Heart failure is a widespread and deadly disease, and for older adults, its symptoms are too often downplayed or dismissed altogether as normal effects of aging,” said Michael Hodin, PhD, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA). “While heart failure does increase in prevalence with age, it must not be conflated with the normal process of aging or other comorbidities. Further, because heart failure is the number one driver of hospitalization globally, it is critically important that we eliminate age bias in the healthcare system in order to detect and diagnose heart failure as early as possible.”

HF is one of 14 key themes of the ESC Congress 2019 / World Congress of Cardiology, which include topics ranging from preventative cardiology to e-cardiology and digital health. Of the 84 HF sessions, two include presentations that focus on older patients. GCOA supports the effort to include HF’s impact on older adults in the broader conversation on Global Cardiovascular Heath but recognizes more attention is needed on the role ageism plays in patient detection, diagnosis, treatment and care.

As a result of ageist assumptions, adults 50 and over are routinely under-recognized, under-diagnosed and under-treated. The “ageism factor” assumes HF symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, are a normal part of aging rather than signs of disease. With the global population over 60 expected to reach 2 billion by mid-century, the number of people at risk for HF is on the rise.

HF affects 26+ million people with approximately 80% of patients over the age of 65. Even while mortality rates for other chronic conditions have continued to improve, the rates for HF have stagnated, and still the majority of patients die within five years of initial hospital admission. HF hospitalization, readmissions and the related costs continue to grow.  As the World Health Organization kicks off its Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) in May, this year’s ESC is a pivotal time for CVD experts to focus on the link between aging and HF to combat the projected 127% increase in direct and indirect HF costs expected by 2030.

To help illuminate the connection between HF and aging, GCOA is pleased to be partnering with like-minded organizations to create the Global Heart Failure Alliance. The Alliance is already increasing awareness of this connection, aimed at enabling patients, caregivers, and health care providers to take early action, quantify the costs associated with HF, and identify levers to alleviate those costs. The Alliance is focused on:

  • Growing and convening cross-sector, cross-discipline and cross-geography experts who recognize and wish to elevate the connection between HF and aging;
  • Developing and distributing a Heart Failure Consensus Statement with calls to action;
  • Reexamining the Heart Failure Patient Hospitalization Journey to evaluate the full scope of those at risk and associated costs; and
  • Identifying Global Best Practices in Heart Failure.

“GCOA looks forward to continuing the efforts of the Global Heart Failure Alliance alongside leading cardiovascular experts and organizations, including ESC and WHF, to shine a light on the full scope of heart failure’s impact through the lens of aging and therefore the potential to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce health system costs,” said Hodin.

The launch session of WHF’s Roadmap for Heart Failure (Expert Advice – Optimising the organisation of heart failure care) will take place on Monday 2 September, 16:40-17:50 at the Paris Convention Centre.

Heart Valve Disease European Alliance Announces Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week

Following the success of the first ever European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day in 2018, members of the European Heart Valve Disease Alliance, met in Paris this year and agreed that the event would be better represented over the course of a week in 2019. The Alliance, made up of patient organisations from France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Ireland and the UK, chose the third week of September as the date for the European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week.

“It has been a pleasure hosting the meeting for the Heart Valve Disease European Alliance here in Paris and we have made great strides with our plans for this year’s awareness event,” said Phillipe Thebault, President of Alliance du Coeur. “Holding it over a week will allow for more opportunities to spread our message about the need for more awareness of heart valve disease across Europe.”

The week will focus on The Power of Positive ageing with key messaging around the four As:

  • Awareness: Call upon governments, scientific societies and industry to collaborate with patient organisations to run national campaigns to raise awareness of heart valve disease
  • Ask: Call upon governments and national payers to fund a check for heart valve disease as part of the annual health check for over 65s
  • Action: Call upon healthcare authorities to put in place national heart valve disease guidelines
  • Access: Call upon national healthcare providers to provide wide and equal access to heart valve disease therapies

“With our ageing population and the high numbers of patients being diagnosed with heart valve disease across Europe, awareness of the disease is essential,” said Eleonora Selvi, Head of Communications for Cuore Italia. “The six countries involved in the European Alliance are all dedicated to making sure that the Four As are realised for the benefit of heart valve disease patients across Europe.”

At the meeting, a number of activities were proposed for each of the participating countries involved. Some suggestions included patient engagement dialogue and roundtables, clinician collaboration and information sharing and a discussion on new methods for developing more awareness around heart valve disease.

To find out more about the European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week in your area contact your closest European Heart Valve Disease Alliance Patient Organisation: