Supporting Families at Croí – Testimonial

Earlier this year, we welcomed Bernadette White to stay in our Courtyard Apartments at Croí House as her husband John received care in Galway University Hospital. Following her stay, we were very grateful to receive this lovely testimonial from Bernadette, who spoke very kindly about the staff at Croí and the Courtyard Apartments.

“My husband, John, had to undergo Triple Bypass Surgery. We live in Donegal which is 4 hours from Galway Hospital. The Cardiac Nurse in Letterkenny Hospital informed us of The Courtyard Apartments at Croí House. What a facility, brilliant! It takes away the stress of trying to find accommodation in Galway. The staff were brilliant, especially Christine (Head of Fundraising at Croí). She made us feel so welcome and was so helpful. It’s brilliant that family members can come and stay, it’s within walking distance of the hospital and has a direct phone line. The apartment was beautiful – a home away from home! It was so nice to be able to relax after a stressful time. We will never forget their kindness” 

– Bernadette White

The Courtyard Apartments are a much-needed facility which allow family members to be as close as possible to patients who are in hospital for cardiac or stroke care in Galway University Hospitals. The apartments are open 365 days a year and have a 98% occupancy rate, with many families coming from the Mid/North West, like the White family.

The apartments consist of three self-contained ground floor accommodation units, located just a ten-minute walk from University Hospital Galway. They are funded entirely by donations and events organised by Croí and have supported families from all over Ireland and even internationally.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE COURTYARD APARTMENTS, CONTACT:
TEL: +353 91 544310
EMAIL: INFO@CROI.IE

Croí’s Couch to 5K

Get Training For the Croí Night Run!

Congratulations! – you have taken the first step to a healthier lifestyle by signing up for the 5th Annual Croí Night Run/Walk/Jog. Not only will you be helping us lead the fight against heart disease and stroke, but you will also be making a positive change to your lifestyle! It has been proven that regular exercise decreases body fat, increases bone density, lowers rates of coronary heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure while also contributing to our mental health by increasing our mood and energy levels.

So join our 9-week Couch to 5K!

Where to start? 

To get you successfully to the finish line, regardless if you are a total beginner or not, we have developed two training programmes to suit your needs. The programme you choose depends on how you want to complete the 5 kilometers (jog/run or walk). The duration of both programmes are 9 weeks in total and will prepare you for the finishing line by gradually building up your ability week by week.

Programmes

Let’s begin by setting your goal. The key is to set a realistic goal!

Would you like to:

  1. Jog/run the 5km; or
  2. Walk the 5km?
Training Programme 1 – run/jog:

Each week you will need to allocate 3 sessions per week, ideally having a day of rest in between allowing your muscles and joints to recover.

Click the table below to enlarge/print. 

Week 10 - Event Day, Oct 11th!

Considerations:

  • Always include a 15-minute warm-up of a brisk walk at moderate intensity (feels comfortable, makes you warm, slightly out of breath, but able to speak a sentence.
  • A jog/run is at a speed faster than walking where both feet are not in contact with the ground at the same time.
  • Always include a 10-minute cool-down walk at light intensity (feels easy, no shortness of breath and can have a conversation easily) at the end of each session incorporating some stretching into the cool-down.
Training Programme 2 – walk:

Each week you will need to allocate 4 or 5 sessions per week, ideally having a rest day in between training days. See pace descriptions at the end of this page.

Click the table below to enlarge/print:

Week 10 - Event Day, Oct 11th!

Considerations:

  • If you need to take a break, be sure to keep the feet moving to ensure a constant steady flow of blood around the body.
  • Take a break during the walks only if needed.
  • At the end of each session, always include a 10-minute cool-down walk at pace: light, incorporating some upper body and lower body stretches into the cool-down.

 

Pace Descriptions

Tips: 

  • Walk/Run with a friend or family member as you can motivate each other.
  • Wear comfortable footwear ideally a running shoe that has some support around the heel and cushioning underneath.
  • Always keep hydrated during your sessions and throughout the day (aim for at least 2/2.5L of water throughout the day).
  • Plan for rainy days, if you don’t wish to get wet,  plan on training indoors when it’s raining outside (a treadmill can be used or an indoor track) however, if you have never experienced a walk/jog/run in the rain you may be surprised how reviving it is (ps. just wear your raincoat).
  • To prevent injury, it is essential to warm-up and cooldown. A warm up of a walk for 15 minutes at a light pace will help warm up the muscles and a 10 minute cool down incorporating some stretches will help you cool down.
  • Include rest days between sessions but if this is not possible just listen to your body as the week’s progress.
  • Sometimes it is common to experience calf pain or pain in the shins the day after the session, if this occurs, apply a cold press for 15-20 minutes.
  • If you miss a day or week, do not fall off the wagon, start working from where you left it.
  • This programme is designed to ensure you will be able to complete your walk/jog/run even if you miss a week.
  • Print off your training programme and have it somewhere where it is at eye-view (e.g. on the fridge door) so you can track your progress and mark off each week as you complete the sessions.

Special thanks to our sponsor Evergreen Healthfoods.

Croi Night Run-25
Croi Night Run-4
Clearskiesahead Lucas-8672

Support Goes Full-Circle

Croí is honoured to have been chosen as Aurivo’s charity partner for 2019. Each year, Aurivo choose a different charity to support in an effort to give back to the local community. Throughout the year, Aurivo employees, members and customers are running a series of events to help support the Courtyard Apartments at Croí House.

The Courtyard Apartments are a much-needed facility which allow family members to be as close as possible to patients who are in hospital for cardiac or stroke care in Galway University Hospitals. The apartments are open 365 days a year and have a 98% occupancy rate, with many families coming from the Mid/North West. Due to the high demand of the facility, Croí is extremely grateful for Aurivo’s support in helping us to continue providing this vital service to families all across Ireland.

In an event of total serendipity, the day Aurivo announced their partnership with Croí, a member of their staff required the services of the Courtyard Apartments. Energy Manager, Marty Dervin, who has worked with Aurivo for over 30 years, travelled to Galway after he experienced a problem with his stents following a heart attack in 2011. Marty had previously been unaware of the Courtyard Apartments which meant that the situation was a complete coincidence. Croí was delighted to help Marty and his family, who are from Ballina, and because of the Courtyard Apartments, he was able to undergo his procedure immediately.

The Courtyard Apartments at Croí House are there for those in need. They consist of three self-contained ground floor accommodation units, located just a ten-minute walk from University Hospital Galway. They are funded entirely by donations and events organised by Croí and have supported families from all over Ireland and even internationally.

 

For more information about the Courtyard Apartments, contact:
Tel: +353 91 544310
Email: info@croi.ie

 

AURIVO - DERVIN

A Fantastic Summer Outing

It was a beautiful day for the Croí Stroke Support Group summer outing!

We visited Rathbaun Farm in Ardrahan, where we met the wonderful Frances who served up her amazing homemade scones, rhubarb jam and cream! We also watched a sheepdog demo and a sheep shearing demo by Fintan on the farm.

We then visited Athenry Heritage Centre for a guided tour of the centre and we dressed up in medieval costume! Fantastic experience and welcome from the team at the Heritage Centre and Athenry Castle. We finished the day with dinner at The Old Barracks Restaurant – such a lovely welcome.

Our group of 45, including stroke survivors and stroke carers, had the best day for our annual summer outing, and we are so grateful to everyone that made it a great success.

Special thanks to Joe at Donoghues of Galway for transporting us safely and being so thoughtful with our group.

#strokesupport #strokecarers #stroke #summerouting #summerevent

Stroke Support Group summer outing_ (1)

Low Carbohydrate Diets

By Divya Ravikumar, Health Promotion Student and Registered Dietitian

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are one of 3 macronutrients (nutrients that form a large part of our diet) found in food – the others being fat and protein. Hardly any foods contain only 1 nutrient, and most are a combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in varying amounts. Typically, carbohydrates can be divided into the following categories:

  • simple/free sugars (jam, sweets, fruit juice)
  • complex/starchy carbohydrates (bread, rice, potato).

What counts as free sugars?

Free sugars are any sugars added to food (e.g. biscuits, chocolate, cake) or sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. There is a lot of media and public interest in ‘sugar’ and the sugar debate can be very confusing as sugar can be found in many foods. Recent recommendations have suggested that it is important to be aware of ‘free sugars’ and to limit our intake of these. It is recommended that adults consume no more than 30g free sugar (approximately 7 teaspoons) per day. Make sure to be label aware as some carbohydrate foods (particularly processed items such as ready meals) can contain high levels of free sugars.

Where are free sugars found?

Table sugar, syrup, treacles, honeys, coconut sugar and fruit juice are all examples of free sugars.

What does not count as free sugar?

Natural sugars found in milk, fruit and vegetables.

Why do we need carbohydrates?

All carbohydrates will be converted to glucose, which can be used by our body as a source of energy, to keep our muscles and organs working.

Should I cut out carbohydrates?

While we can most certainly survive without sugar, it would be quite difficult to eliminate carbohydrates entirely from your diet. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. In their absence, your body will use protein and fat for energy. It may also be hard to get enough fibre, which is important for long-term health. Healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as higher fibre starchy foods, vegetables, fruits and legumes, are also an important source of nutrients, such as calcium, iron and B vitamins. Significantly reducing carbohydrates from your diet in the long term could put you at increased risk of insufficient intakes of certain nutrients, potentially leading to health problems.

Cutting out carbohydrates fully from your diet could put you at increased risk of a deficiency in certain nutrients, leading to health problems, unless you’re able to make up for the nutritional shortfall with healthy substitutes. Replacing carbohydrates with fats and higher fat sources of protein could increase your intake of saturated fat, which can raise the amount of cholesterol in your blood – a risk factor for heart disease. When you’re low on glucose, the body breaks down stored fat to convert it into energy. This process causes a build-up of ketones in the blood, resulting in ketosis. Ketosis as a result of a low-carbohydrate diet can be linked, at least in the short term, to headaches, weakness, nausea, dehydration, dizziness and irritability. Try to limit the amount of sugary foods you eat and instead include healthier sources of carbohydrate in your diet, such as wholegrains, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, legumes and lower fat dairy products.

What happens if we don’t get enough carbohydrate?

If we do not have enough carbohydrate in our diet, our bodies can convert fatty acids into ‘energy’ to meet the demands of our brain. This causes the increase in levels of ketones in our bodies, which in rare cases has caused serious problems. It is very rare that you would have insufficient carbohydrate in your diet unless chronically malnourished or following an extremely low carbohydrate diet which is also lacking in protein. Some people with diabetes can be at risk of hypoglycaemia (too little blood glucose), which can be a result of a mismatch of dietary carbohydrate with medication and exercise. This potentially can also happen in some athletes performing endurance exercise. For most people this is rarely an issue, and if symptoms of low blood sugar occur, these should be medically investigated. Our brains tend to favour using glucose for energy, if we don’t have enough in our diets, then our brains have to adapt to using fats called ketones. While this adaptation is happening, the body has to breakdown protein, which could lead to loss of muscle.

Low – carb diets and weight loss

Low-carbohydrate diets (i.e. defined as diets containing between 50g and 130g carbohydrate) can be effective in managing weight, improving glycaemic control and cardiovascular risk in people with Type 2 diabetes in the short term i.e. less than 12 months (Diabetes UK 2018). This is probably due to the accompanying reduction in energy (calorie) intake and subsequent weight loss (Diabetes UK 2018).

More research is needed to ascertain the long-term health impacts of low-carbohydrate diets, including on heart health. For this reason, it is best to adhere to Irish healthy eating and portion size guidelines as detailed below. 

If you choose to adopt a low-carb diet

It is still possible to adhere to standard portion sizes and serving guidelines and adopt a low-carb diet.

For example, having one portion of oats at breakfast, 2 slices of bread at lunch and 4 baby potatoes at dinner, along with an apple, orange and a banana would add up to approximately 123g carbohydrate. This falls within low-carbohydrate guidelines and would still meet Irish eating healthy guidelines for carbohydrate and contributes towards your fruit and vegetable intake for the day.

We do not recommend restricting fruit intake as it does not contain large amounts of carbohydrate in the correct portion size and fruit is an excellent snack and source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Eating Healthy When Out and About

By Christine Houlihan, Sligo IT student on placement with Croí

Whether it’s the Monday morning breakfast roll to work or high tea on Sunday with the girls, there has never been more reason or temptation to eat outside of the home. More and more we find ourselves spending less time at home and more time out and about for things like work and meeting with family and friends.

It is estimated that one quarter of our calories come from foods and drinks cooked and prepared outside of the home. Cafés, restaurants, bars, canteens, delis, takeaways, meetings and markets, the list is endless. In general the foods and drinks served tend to be high in calories, fat, sugar and salt, which makes them oh so tempting but not the greatest for our waistlines or long term health.

Eating out is here to stay, but how do you experience all of the joy but none of the guilt that eating out has to offer? Here are some tips on eating healthy when out and about.

Tips for Eating Out the Healthy Way

  • Fail to plan and plan to fail, take time to plan your meals in advance. If you find yourself eating out a lot then try and have a healthy go-to spot. Some places have a sample menu on their website giving you a taste of what’s on offer and even sometimes the calorie content of meals.
  • Don’t arrive too hungry, as you are more likely to make poor decisions and overeat at your meal. It’s more difficult to avoid nibbling on bread sticks beforehand and overeating if you arrive too hungry. Avoid overdoing it by eating healthy snacks like fruit and nuts between meals if hungry.
  • Downsize your portion, ask for a half portion of your meal. In asking for a half portion it allows you to enjoy your preferred meal without overeating and feeling bloated. Many restaurants will be able to package up the remainder of the meal, meaning you get to re-visit the experience in the comfort of your own home.
  • Fill up on lower fat foods, eat a variety of vegetables, salads, fruits and legumes with your meals. Filling up on these foods helps you to feel fuller for longer and avoid overeating richer foods served as part of the meal. Try snacking on fruit if hungry before a meal, having salad as a sandwich filler, and ordering a side salad or bowl of vegetables instead of additional chips and potatoes.
  • Skip the extras, don’t be afraid to ask for alterations and substitutions to your meal. Ask that butter or mayonnaise not be added to sandwiches, salad dressings and sauces on the side, boiled vegetables without added butter and for a cup of soup or side salad instead of chips or wedges.
  • Embrace a challenge, try and opt for a more veggie-based option. Eating out is the perfect time to try tasty meals you would not normally prepare at home. Whether it’s a veggie lasagna or three bean Shepherd’s pie, very few of your favorites no longer have a meat free counterpart. Opting for a vegetarian option can make the meal more exciting and give you some inspiration on how to incorporate more vegetables, salads, fruits and legumes into your diet.
  • Focus more on the people. Try and focus your attention on the people at the meal. Sharing a meal with others is a wonderful way to socialize. Directing your attention to those you are sharing a meal with can draw you away from temptations on menu boards whilst also slow down your eating and dining experience.
  • Mindful Eating: eat with intention and attention. Mindful eating is a way of caring for your body. It can help you avoid overindulging whilst still enjoy the food experience to the full. Slow down and take time to scan the menu, take in the atmosphere, eat slowly, stay present noting all of the smells, tastes and textures of the meal. And when it’s time to stop, STOP. Don’t dwell on your mother telling you to clean your plate. Once full, leave a napkin over the plate or ask to have what’s left over boxed up to take home.
  • Skip dessert or split dessert, and go for a walk. It’s no easy task to turn a blind eye to a selection of pastries at a meetings or the “special” on a desserts board. If you know you are going to be faced with a not so sweet decision try and pack a naturally sweet snack like fruit or a healthier homemade dessert. If temptation wins then why not share your delicious treat with someone and follow it up with a brisk walk to avoid going back for more.
  • If having a little holiday, pack a picnic. With the summer months upon us and the sun coming out, it has never been a better time to pull out the picnic blankets and dust off the plastic cutlery. Have a rummage through your fridge and get planning a tasty selection of sandwiches and salads filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables. You will know exactly what’s in your lunch and will be amazed by how much money you save and fun you have in the process.

Men’s Health Matters…Make the Time. Take the Time.

This week is International Men’s Health Week! Here is Val’s story about taking control of his health:

Val Browne, aged 69, joined the Ballina Men’s Shed last year following the death of his wife.

He attended a Croí HeartSmart screening last September in the Shed as part of a health initiative. Val had no previous history of heart disease or particular risk factors, but at the screening a Croí nurse discovered he had high blood pressure and was advised to attend his GP. “I got the shock of my life. I’d be the last person you would think had high blood pressure… I never had any health problems,” says Val.

High blood pressure can damage your arteries and increase your chances of heart disease, stroke and suffering kidney damage. Two days later Val still had no plans to see his GP: “The Croí nurse called me and urged me again to see my GP, so I finally went.” Val’s high blood pressure was persistent, so his GP arranged further monitoring and treatment. “I had no symptoms, but that’s why they call it the silent killer,” says Val.

He is now very aware of his blood pressure readings and understands that it is important to look after your blood pressure and to keep it at healthy levels. “The Croí screening was the best thing ever. You saved me and you saved one or two more on that day too!” says Val.

Men’s Health Matters…Make the Time. Take the Time.

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.”`