Mary’s Story, Croí Programme Participant

“I found it great motivation to look at your diet, your weight and your exercise levels… it started me off on a regime of trying to get more exercise,” says Mary Lyons from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.

Watch now to hear how the Croí Third Age Mayo blood pressure management programme helped Mary and her husband take control of their heart health.

You can start making healthy choices too by accessing our heart health information on our website.

This programme was delivered by the Croí multi-disciplinary health team. ❤️

Couch to Wild Atlantic Way – Karen’s Story

Karen Reid, living in Craughwell, Co. Galway, was 39 when she experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or Mini Stroke in 2019. After being admitted to Ballinasloe hospital, she was diagnosed with a rare, congenital heart condition – Non Compaction Myocardium. Having always lived a healthy and active lifestyle, she was shocked by this diagnosis, thinking ‘why me?’. Karen was told by her doctors that due to her rare condition it was likely that she would have experienced stroke at some point in her life. However, it was her stress levels which caused it to happen so young. Thankfully, after counselling and a period of rest, Karen recovered well from her stroke and turned her focus to maintaining a healthy life.

In hospital, she was given an information leaflet with the Croí website. From there, she got tips on how to reduce her stress and other risk factors for stroke. She also
started attending Croí’s Heartlink West virtual chats which served as a weekly reminder to keep up her healthy habits.

Six months after her stroke, the country went into lockdown and Karen felt her mood drop – “I found myself wallowing a bit, I felt like it shouldn’t have happened to me. But a stroke can happen to anybody,” she said. It was then that she saw Croí’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way challenge and decided to sign-up. Karen completed the 6-week challenge and ended up raising over €1,000 for Croí through her iDonate page. Along with her successful fundraiser, the event also helped Karen to come out of the negative mind space she had been in. It got her into a routine of walking regularly and her mood lifted.

Coming up to Christmas 2021, Karen lost her father and grandmother. This great loss set her healthy habits back slightly, but it made her realise how important walking was to her, ‘I know now that if I miss my walking, I don’t feel as well,’ says Karen. She is now looking forward to getting back into her routine and is excited to take part in Croí’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way again this year.

Karen’s experience with stroke has made her more grateful for life. It taught her how damaging stress can be to her health and she now puts time into taking care of her stress levels and mental health through walking. “There’s so many little things you can change – eat a bit better, walk a bit more, and stress a bit less. Anybody can do that if they put a little time into it.”

Join Karen and sign-up today for Croí’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way 6-week virtual challenge!

Valentine’s Day – The Heart of the Matter

Valentine’s Day has many of us thinking of matters of the heart, but it might be a good time to consider your heart health and assess how healthy your heart actually is.

While heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death of men and women in Ireland, and worldwide, warning signs are not always obvious.

Prioritise your heart, and the hearts of your loved ones, this Valentine’s Day, by being proactive about your heart health and supporting your loved ones to do the same.


Do you know your numbers? If you don’t know any of the readings below, we encourage you to make an appointment with your GP to get informed and take control of your heart health.

Blood Pressure: The ideal is 140/90 mmHg or below. Higher levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Total Cholesterol: Levels of five or above increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Weight: Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Did you know that if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 25, losing 5-10% of your starting weight can reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol?

Waist Size: Carrying most of our weight around our middle can increase our risk of heart disease and stroke. For men, aim for a waist circumference of less than 94cm, and for women, aim for less than 80cm. Note – measure about an inch above your belly button.


80% of Heart Disease and Stroke Can Be Prevented

A risk factor is anything that raises a person’s chance of developing heart disease and stroke. There are two types of risk factors, those you cannot change, e.g. age and family history, and thankfully those you can change, e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol and physical activity. All of the risk factors above are in our control and 80% of heart disease and stroke can be prevented by being proactive and making the necessary lifestyle changes.


Listen To Your Heart

If you would like more information about risk factors or support on taking care of your heart health, Croí’s FREE telephone helpline, Heartlink West, is live weekdays from 9 am – 5:30 pm on 091 544310. When you call, you will be connected with one of our Cardiac Nurse Specialists. Alternatively, you can email the Croí Health Team at or join our weekly Heartlink West Virtual Chats.

Join Croí on a journey of wellness with the Couch To Wild Atlantic Way Virtual Challenge!

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Croí is excited to launch this year’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way Virtual Challenge, with the third year promising to be even better with the addition of the new Wild Atlantic Wellness Programme!

Join Croí, the Heart and Stroke Charity, on a virtual 6-week challenge around the Atlantic Coast and embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of life by walking, jogging or running your desired route, with support and advice from the Croí Health Team along the way. You can also gather friends, family or colleagues to join you to tackle a coastal route together – this challenge has an option to suit everyone!

The challenge kicks off on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 2022, and participants can choose to take part as an individual or as part of a team. Once you have chosen your desired route, you can track your progress through an interactive map – tracking your distance and virtually moving down the coast as you complete kilometers each week. The interactive map also allows for others to track your progress too, with the option to support you via sponsorship.

The various route options available mean that you can select the right challenge for you based on your fitness level. The individual routes are broken down by county (Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry and Cork), ranging from 148 km in distance (the Sligo route) to 604 km (the Donegal route). The team routes take you on a longer journey along the Wild Atlantic Way but with a few options to choose from depending on the size of your group and fitness levels. The full route takes you on a journey around the entire Wild Atlantic Way coastal route, from Donegal to Cork, an impressive 2,735 km.

The best thing about the Couch to Wild Atlantic Way Virtual Challenge is that you can take part from wherever you are in the world. This year, we are excited to share the addition of the Wild Atlantic Wellness Programme where experts from the Croí Health Team will be sharing their knowledge and providing support and advice with a weekly video message to enhance your experience and to inspire you on your heart health journey during the challenge and beyond,” says Croí’s Fundraising Director, Christine Flanagan.

Proceeds from this event will go directly to supporting Croí services, such as our virtual health and support programmes, including Heartlink West, and the Croí Courtyard Apartments.

We hope you will join us on this virtual mission in aid of Croí. Your support is vital and every euro raised will help the important fight against heart disease and stroke,” says Flanagan.

Registration is just €15, and all registrants will receive an eco-friendly Couch to Wild Atlantic Way medal, PLUS participants who raise over €50 will receive a special Croí beanie!

Register now at and get ready to start your Couch to Wild Atlantic Way Virtual Challenge.

Let’s fight heart disease and stroke together, one step at a time.