COVID-19: Advice for individuals living with heart disease or stroke

The Croí Health Team is here as always if you need support. Contact us by email at healthteam@croi.ie or call 091-544310.

Updated April 3rd

Latest developments: 

  • Until the April 12th, everyone needs to stay at home as much as possible. The impact of these measures are constantly being assessed so further steps as necessary can be planned. It now seems likely that these restrictive measures will be extended beyond the initial expected date. During this more intensive phase you should only leave your house:
    • To attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products.
    • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people – this excludes social family visits.
    • Exercise outdoors – within 2 kilometres of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people.
    • Travel to work if you provide an essential service – be sure to practice social distancing.
  • Cocooning is recommended for everyone over the age of 70, for those in the very high risk groups (including specific heart conditions) or living in a nursing home/residential facility.

The Croí Health team are determined to stay connected with all our groups and supporters and aim to keep you informed and up to date on a regular basis. We will continuously explore the latest evidence on COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease and will share this important information with you.

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

For heart and stroke patients, prevention is key. While it is normal to feel anxious about how this condition might affect you, you are at no greater risk of developing COVID-19 than anyone else. However if you do contract the virus you have a higher chance of developing complications.

Groups that are at risk of more serious illness if they catch coronavirus are:

  • Those aged 60 years of age and over
  • People with a long term medical condition – for example heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, liver disease or high blood pressure
  • People who have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed)
  • People who have a medical condition that can affect their breathing
  • Resident of a nursing home or other residential care setting
  • People who are in specialist disability care and are over 50 years of age or have an underlying health problem

Therefore you need to be extra vigilant by following the advice of the HSE, being aware of the symptoms and by taking the recommended precautionary measures. From 30th March this now includes the advice to stay in your own home as much as possible. Staying at home is the best way to minimise the risk of COVID-19 to your friends, families and communities.

Everyone has a role to play in reducing the spread of this virus and if we all take collective responsibility we will minimise the risk for everyone.

Is there any specific advice for individuals living with heart disease or stroke?

As you are at higher-risk of a more serious illness if you contract coronavirus, you are being advised to stay at home as much as possible and to limit your social contact. We strongly urge you to take extra care in ensuring you follow all of the recommended precautions. Please see our advice below on cocooning.

While all individuals with underlying cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of complications if affected by COVID-19, those at greatest risk include individuals who have:

  • Had a heart transplant
    • At any time in the past or more recently.
  • Are pregnant with a heart condition
    • Lung viruses can cause severe illness in pregnant women, particularly those with an underlying heart condition.
    • Heart conditions include symptomatic coronary disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (if it affects your heart function), thickening of the heart muscle (left ventricular hypertrophy, pulmonary hypertension, a moderate / severely narrowed or leaking heart valve, heart failure that affects your left ventricular function), or significant congenital heart disease.
  • Had recent open heart surgery
    • Including coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG) and valve repair or replacement.
  • Heart failure
    • Especially if you have been recently diagnosed, it affects your activities of daily living or you have been recently hospitalised for treatment.
  • Heart valve disease
    • Where this is severe disease or you have ongoing symptoms or are awaiting valve surgery.
    • A heart murmur in itself where you do not have symptoms or not diagnosed with valve disease does not increase your risk.
  • Congenital heart disease
    • There are many types but in particular if you have complex disease or have other underlying conditions increasing your vulnerability.
  • Cardiomyopathy
    • Any type if you have ongoing symptoms or your daily activities are limited.
  • Angina
    • That limits your daily activities or means you have to use your GTN spray frequently.
  • Heart disease with other health conditions such as chronic kidney disease and lung disease

With the emphasis being on minimising contact outside the home, it is still important to maintain your healthy lifestyle habits and not to disregard your usual exercise routine. As this may not be possible to continue outdoors please see our website for lots of helpful health tips and advice to keep you on track.

Refill your medication prescription as normal and have over the counter medications such as paracetamol and a thermometer in your home. There is no disruption to the supply of medicines and therefore there is no need to order more medicines than you need. Ask a family member to collect any medicines you need. If you do feel unwell, it’s still really important to carry on taking any medication you’ve been prescribed and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Look after your emotional health and well-being. Any unexpected changes to our daily lives can be a source of stress and COVID-19 is no different. It is important to obtain information from reputable sources and focus on the facts rather than opinions on social media.

Cocooning

What is cocooning?

Cocooning is a recommendation from the HSE and the Irish government to protect those who are most at risk of developing serious complications if they contract the COVID-19 virus. Cocooning aims to minimize interaction between those most at risk and others.

What should I do?

It is advised that you don’t leave your house for the next 2 weeks.

  • This means avoiding face to face interaction.
  • Do not go out shopping for food or medicine. Ask a friend or neighbour to do this for you, or arrange for your shopping to be delivered. Many shops are now offering this service for free. Also many communities have set up support groups to help and support those in need.
  • Ask for your shopping to be left outside at your door.
  • People who visit to help care for you should still attend as long as they have no symptoms of COVID-19. Ask them to wash their hands on arrival and when possible keep 2 meters apart.
  • Avoid anyone who is sick – If you usually have carers, have a backup plan in case one of them becomes unwell.
  • You can ask your family to keep in touch with you via Whatsapp, video or social media so you don’t miss out.
  • Continue to exercise and enjoy the fresh air but do not leave your garden.
  • If you need to contact your GP use the telephone.

 

Do I need to cocoon?

The HSE have advised the following people to cocoon:

  • people aged 70 years or over;
  • solid organ transplant recipients (including heart transplant);
  • people with specific cancers, rare diseases, respiratory conditions; and
  • women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

 

In addition to HSE recommendations, international cardiac societies advise people living with the following conditions to cocoon:

  • Heart conditions, including symptomatic coronary disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (if it affects your heart function);
  • Had recent open heart surgery;
  • Heart failure;
  • Heart valve disease – that is moderate or severe;
  • Significant congenital heart disease;
  • Cardiomyopathy – any type if you have ongoing symptoms or your daily activities are limited;
  • Those with Angina that limits your daily activities or means you have to use your GTN spray frequently.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The main symptoms to watch out for are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties

Other symptoms are fatigue, headaches, sore throat, aches and pains. But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

The symptoms that are considered now for screening are: Fever and at least one sign of respiratory disease, for example cough, shortness of breath.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned you should contact your GP for further advice.

How to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19

Coronavirus is spread by droplet infection – coughing and sneezing or by close contact with someone who has the virus. As it’s a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person. Spread is most likely from those who have symptoms.

Limit close contact

Latest recommendations include the closure of all non-essential retail outlets. People need to stay at home and only leave to:

  • go to work
  • go to the shops for essential supplies
  • care for others
  • for brief individual exercise – within 2 kilometres of your house. (You can bring children but must keep 2 metres away from others for social distancing)

As Ireland has local transmission of the virus, the country has entered the ‘delay phase’ of managing COVID-19.  Physical distancing and avoiding close contact is strongly advised to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Key recommendations are:

  • Avoid hand shaking and close contact with people- keep a distance of 2 meters (6.5 feet) between you and others.
  • Work from home if and where possible.
  • Children should stay at home, but may leave the house to exercise within 2km radius of their house. They should not be meeting or visiting friends or family members.
  • Make a joint plan with family friends and neighbours on what to do if you become ill.

Travel

  • Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • You will need to restrict your movements for 14 days if returning from any other country.
  • You DO NOT need to restrict your  movements if you are returning from northern Ireland or you are an essential supply chain worker such as a pilot, haulier or maritime staff member.
  • Check with the department of foreign affairs for the latest advice before travelling abroad.

Self-quarantine and self-isolation

  • To help stop the spread of coronavirus you may need to either self-quarantine or self-isolate.
  • Self-quarantine means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. You will need to do this if you are a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus and you are still well.
  • Self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people. You will need to do this if you have symptoms of coronavirus.

 

Other Do’s and Don’t’s include:

Do:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Don’t:

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Do not share objects that touch your mouth, for example bottles and cups.
  • Do not shake hands.
  • Don’t have visitors to your home, unless they are helping with your care needs.

Treatment for COVID-19

There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. The treatment approach involves alleviating symptoms and reducing the risk of others becoming infected. This includes:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Taking paracetamol to help with symptoms such as a high temperature
  • Staying in isolation away from other people until you have recovered

Further information

For further information you can visit the following websites:

  • www.hse.ie
  • www.gov.ie
  • Spunout – Crisis Text Line is a 24/7 messaging support service with trained volunteers available to listen to people going through a tough time. Crisis Text Line provides in-the-moment anonymous support and problem solving when you need it most. Text YMH to 086 1800 280 to begin right now. (Standard SMS rates may apply)

Croí Supports Local Effort To Combat COVID-19

Local Heart & Stroke charity Croí is playing it’s part in supporting the HSE and Galway University Hospital in the fight against the Coranavirus.

“Like all charities, we are being severely impacted by the Coranavirus, both operationally and financially,” says Croí CEO Neil Johnson. “For almost three weeks now, we have ceased all face-to-face programmes and classes in the Croí Heart & Stroke Centre as many of the individuals we deal with are in the highly vulnerable group should they contract the virus. With all programmes ceased, we had an empty building which is adjacent to GUH, and we felt that it could be put to good use in the battle against COVID-19. We are delighted that the HSE are now using Croí Centre as a Contact Tracing Centre.

Furthermore, our Croí Courtyard Apartments will also be used in the current emergency. These apartments are part of our patient support services where we provide them free of charge for use by the families and relatives of those receiving emergency cardiac and stroke care in GUH. As visiting patients in hospitals is now not allowed, the apartments were not being utilised so we have offered them to GUH for use by ICU Staff on the frontline who need to stay away from their families as part of infection control,” Johnson added.

While the Croí building is now being used for other purposes, the Croí Health Team are still available and providing daily support to people living with heart disease, obesity, diabetes and recovering from stroke, through their telephone helpline (091-544310) and regularly updated information and resources on the Croí website (www.croi.ie) and across all Croí social media channels (@croiheartstroke).

Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on Croí, CEO Neil Johnson says: “All charities are being hit very badly by the current crisis. For Croí we are no different, all our income lines have literally dried up at a time of greatest need for the supports we provide to those who are most vulnerable to the Coronavirus. We are heartened to still be receiving donations from some individuals and organisations who are in a position to do so. We know we will manage to get through this difficult period and we remain available to patients and carers to support them in whatever way we can.”

The Croí website (www.croi.ie) is regularly updated with the latest advice on COVID-19, along with practical guides and tips to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.

If you need support, you can contact the Croí Health Team on 091-544310 Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 5:30pm or you can email us at healthteam@croi.ie.

I have just been told I have heart failure, what does this mean?

Updated March 31

If you have just been told you have heart failure you are probably particularly worried, given the global pandemic of coronavirus. Because of this you have probably been given a diagnosis in hospital and promptly discharged home, back to the care of your GP due to pressure on medical staff to make beds available, but also to reduce this risk of you catching the virus. The specialist team of nurses and health care providers that you would usually see have most likely been redeployed.

So what does this mean for you?

Firstly, heart failure sounds scary – often when people are told they have heart failure they think that their heart is just going to stop. Heart failure is a chronic disease the same as diabetes – it cannot be cured but it can be managed.

Think of your heart as two pumps one side the right side pumping blood into the lungs to become oxygenated, the left side of the heart then pumping this blood around the rest of the body. Heart failure is a pump failure. Your heart is failing to pump as efficiently as it used to. It can be right, left or both sides that fail. It can fail for many reasons as is discussed on our heart failure page.

Having a pump that is not working as efficiently as it used to leads to a build-up of fluid – a lot of managing heart failure is managing fluid. This fluid can build up in the lungs, around the stomach or in the legs, causing the following symptoms.

Symptoms:

Breathlessness, particularly on exertion, waking up breathless at night or needing to increase the amount of pillows that you sleep. Swelling in your feet and legs. Bloating and reduced appetite.

What can you do?

Remember you will be seen for follow-up and possible further investigations when the coronavirus has gone or is under control. Until then, there are things you can do at home yourself.

  • Stay at home and follow advice around coronavirus, you are not more likely to catch the virus, but if you do you are more likely to develop complications.
  • Restrict your fluid intake to 2 litres in 24 hours (unless you have been specifically told differently by a medical professional) 2 litres is enough to keep your kidneys happy but not too much that will put extra pressure on your heart.
  • Don’t use salt of any kind including low salt. Salt is a magnet for fluid and works against medication that tries to help you get rid of this extra fluid. (water tablets or diuretics such as Furosemide).
  • Check your weight first thing every morning, go to the toilet and record your weight. Make sure you’re wearing the same thing every time you weigh yourself. You are looking at what your weight is doing, not what it is. If it increases by 3lb overnight or a total of 5lb (or 2kg) in 1 week you need to speak to your GP. A weight increase indicates a build-up of fluid and is a very strong indicator your heart is not pumping as well. This may mean you need to have your medication adjusted. Often you will see your weight start to increase before you have or notice any symptoms with heart failure.
  • Take your medication often people with heart failure are prescribed water tablets or diuretics such as Furosemide or Bumetanide. It is important that you take them, if you need to leave the house or go on a long journey and are worried about finding a toilet take them later in in the day. This is ok as long as you remember to take them and that water tablets will be in your system for around 6 hours. They start working after 30 minutes and are more potent the first couple of hours. This means if you take your tablets at bedtime you will get a very poor night’s sleep.

If you experience any of the following worsening of symptoms, you should contact your GP or attend your local emergency department.

See Croí’s health page for more information on heart failure.

The Croí Health Team is here as always if you need support. Contact us by email at healthteam@croi.ie or call 091-544310.

Advice From Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity COVID-19 and People Living with Heart Disease

The coronavirus pandemic has caused great alarm and distress across the country. Understandably, many of those living with heart disease are anxious and concerned.

While people of all ages can be infected by this new virus, it presents a greater risk for people over the age of 60 years of age and those who have underlying medical conditions, chief among them is heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

It’s well established that many virus infections can affect the heart, and coronavirus is no different. Viruses are known to cause inflammation of the heart muscle. While in a healthy patient this may not lead to an adverse outcome, the situation for those living with heart disease is different. If these individuals become infected with coronavirus they are at greater risk of adverse cardiac events and the outcomes may be poor.

“It is normal to feel concerned about COVID-19, especially if you are living with heart disease. While it is normal to feel anxious about how this condition might affect you, the first thing to know is that you are at no greater risk of developing COVID-19 than anyone else. However, if you do contract the virus you have a higher chance of developing complications,” says Croí Director of Programmes, Irene Gibson.

With the number of cases in Ireland increasing on a daily basis, hospitals are likely to experience an unprecedented increase in-patient admissions. Consequently, in anticipation some hospitals are cancelling clinics and limiting non-urgent activity to urgent and emergency cases so as to reduce the strain on staffing and beds.

It is important to remember that our hospitals will continue to treat heart patients, but the current pressures may result in delays, cancellations of appointments and disruption of services.

 

How do I reduce my risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus:

For those living with heart disease, prevention is key. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Coronavirus is spread by droplet infection – coughing and sneezing – or by close contact with someone who has the virus. As this is a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person. Spread is most likely from those who have symptoms. It is very important therefore to limit close contact.

“Croí’s advice is to be extra vigilant and follow the advice of the HSE. Be aware of the symptoms of coranavirus and be extra vigilant in taking the recommended precautionary measures. Everyone has a role to play in reducing the spread of this virus and if we all take collective responsibility we will minimise the risk for everyone,” says Croí CEO, Neil Johnson.

 

Key things to remember are:

  • Stay at home as much as possible and limit your social contact, particularly with people who are unwell.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water – do this for at least 20 seconds at each wash.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands). Immediately after use, put your used tissues in the bin and then wash your hands.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Do not share objects that touch your mouth, for example bottles or cups.
  • Do you best to follow all your medical advice on how to keep your condition well controlled.
  • Stay in regular contact with family, friends or neighbours as you may need to ask for help if you become sick.
  • Maintain a healthy diet – unless you have been advised to adhere to a specially prescribed diet, you should continue to try and eat a wide variety of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential nutrients.
  • Try and engage in some form of exercise everyday – even if it is only walking up and down the stairs if you are able.

 

For Family and Caregivers:

  • Know what medications are prescribed – maintain a list.
  • Watch for new symptoms.
  • Prepare a plan to make sure food and other supplies are available when needed.
  • Consider options and have a plan for what would happen if you become ill.

 

International heart specialists are offering the following advice and opinion for specific heart conditions, says Croí

  • Individuals who are immunosuppressed, such as heart transplant patients or cancer patients who also have heart disease and pregnant women with underlying cardiac conditions are probably the most vulnerable to this virus and need to be extra vigilant.
  • There is no evidence to-date that the virus infects implanted devices such as pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators or causes infective endocarditis (infection) in those with heart valve disease.
  • Individuals with Brugada Syndrome (heart rhythm disorder), need to be mindful of developing high temperatures (above 39 degrees Celsius) and should treat accordingly.
  • Individuals who have previously suffered from myocarditis or pericarditis are not at any higher risk of developing the same condition with COVID-19.
  • To-date there is no evidence that the coronavirus directly infects the heart however the infection caused by the virus may worsen heart function and exacerbate symptoms in patients with heart failure.
  • For the general population, wearing a mask is only recommended if you are experiencing symptoms or caring for someone with symptoms. If you have a heart condition, wearing a mask may make breathing more difficult so you should consult your doctor for advice on this.
  • All those with heart conditions who are on medications should take all their medications exactly as prescribed. Do not make any changes without firstly contacting your doctor or nurse.

Despite all the focus on coronavirus, the usual amount of heart attacks and strokes will continue to occur in our community. It’s important therefore to remind people not to delay if they are experiencing signs or symptoms of heart attack or stroke. If you do experience chest pains or stroke symptoms, please do not delay in calling 999 or 112. The emergency departments are still open for heart and stroke patients in all hospitals.

“While the Croí Heart & Stroke Centre is not currently running face to face classes or programmes, our health team are here as always to answer your questions so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or visit our website for support resources,” says Irene Gibson, Director of Programmes.

 

You can contact the Croí Health Team on 091-544310 Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 5:30pm or you can email us at healthteam@croi.ie.

The Croí website (www.croi.ie) is regularly updated with the latest advice on COVID-19, along with practical guides and tips to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.  

COVID-19: Advice for individuals living with Heart Failure

This advice is based on information from the Heart Failure Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub. Croí is a member of the Global Heart Hub.

Covid-19 presents the world with an unprecedented public health challenge. Its rapid spread has caused significant alarm and disruption across the globe. Understandably, those living with heart disease and heart failure are anxious and concerned.

It is well established that many virus infections can affect the heart, and experts suspect that coronavirus is no different. Viruses are known to induce inflammation of the myocardium (heart muscle). While in a healthy patient this may not lead to an adverse outcome, the situation for those living with heart disease and heart failure is different. Evidence suggests that if these individuals become infected with coronavirus they are at greater risk of adverse cardiac events and the outcomes may be poor.

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. With the number of cases around the world increasing on a daily basis, hospitals are experiencing an unprecedented increase inpatient admissions. Consequently, hospitals are cancelling clinics and l non-urgent activity.  Only urgent and emergency cases are being treated to reduce the strain on staffing and beds, and prevent vulnerable patients being exposed to the COVID-19 virus unnecessarily.

It is important to remember that hospitals will continue to treat heart patients, but the current pressures may result in delays, cancellations of appointments and disruption of services. The decisions on who will be treated will be based on clinical need, with those in most need of treatment being prioritised.

For further information on COVID-19 virus and symptoms see Croí’s advice here.

 

Staying well

For those living with Heart Failure:

  • Take all your medicines as advised by your doctor or nurse.
  • Do your best to follow all your medical advice on how to keep your condition well controlled.
  • Continue to self-monitor your condition and record your weight on a daily basis (first thing after you get out of bed in the morning).
  • Stay in regular contact with family, friends or neighbours as you may need to ask for help if you become sick.
  • Maintain a healthy diet – unless you have been advised to adhere to a specially prescribed diet, you should continue to try and eat a wide variety of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential nutrients.

For Family and Caregivers:

  • Know what medications are prescribed and make sure supplies are secure.
  • Watch for new symptoms.
  • Prepare a plan to make sure food and other supplies are available when needed.
  • Consider options and have a plan for what would happen if you become ill.

 

What should I do if I experience gradual or persistent worsening symptoms of Heart Failure, such as my weight increasing or my legs swelling?

Self-monitoring of your condition on a daily basis is very important. It is equally important that you take your daily medicines as prescribed by your doctor.

If you experience any of the following worsening of symptoms, you should contact your GP, if available your Heart Failure Nurse or your local Heart Failure Clinic for advice and review of your medication. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 many hospital staff have been redeployed. If you are unable to contact you heart failure nurse or team please contact your GP or local emergency department if you are concerned.

Worsening symptoms to look out for:

  • Weight increase greater than 3lb overnight or 5 lb (2kg) in a week .
  • Increased swelling in the legs or abdomen.
  • Increased shortness of breath on exertion, lying down or in bed at night.

If you have very sudden or very severe symptoms call for an ambulance so that you can be taken to hospital for treatment as soon as possible.

 

STAY CALM!

It is perfectly understandable that people may be feeling anxious or concerned about what might happen to them or their loved ones over the coming months. However, we must remind ourselves that this crisis will end. Only seek information from reliable sources – there is a huge amount of ‘fake news’ and false rumours which do nothing more than cause unnecessary anxiety and distress.

Already many heart patients are slow to respond to changes in their health or they are dismissing new symptoms because they do not wish to burden their doctor or local hospital. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, doctors and emergency rooms are still there to help heart patients so do not ignore worrying symptoms or delay in contacting them if you are unwell. Keep up to date with your local health information notices on how best to contact your GP or Heart Failure Nurse.  The Heart Failure Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub are being advised by medical and public health experts and we will keep you updated on any changes in information that could affect those living with Heart Failure.

 

See Croí’s health page for more information on heart failure.

The Croí Health Team is here as always if you need support. Contact us by email at healthteam@croi.ie or call 091-544310.

COVID-19: Advice for individuals with Heart Valve Disease

People living with moderate or severe heart valve disease are at increased risk of complications if affected by COVID-19. Those at greatest risk are individuals with severe disease, significant ongoing symptoms or awaiting valve surgery.

It is important to remember that hospitals will continue to treat heart patients, but the current pressures may result in delays, cancellations of appointments and disruption of services.

This advice is based on information from the Heart Valve Disease Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub. Croí is a member of the Global Heart Hub.

What should I do if I am due to have heart valve surgery or have a heart valve procedure?

If you are due to have surgery you should continue to prepare for it unless told otherwise by your clinician. If your surgery is rescheduled for a later date you should monitor your symptoms closely. If your symptoms get worse and you begin to feel unwell you should report this to your GP, call your hospital medical team or in severe cases, call the emergency services.

 

What should I do if I have recently had heart valve surgery or a heart valve procedure?

Patients who have recently had a procedure have an increased risk of infections due to cuts/incisions which may be exposed to germs. The normal risk of infection for heart valve disease patients is low, but in the current situation you should take every extra measure to limit your risk of infection. If you do begin to feel unwell you should contact your hospital medical team or call the emergency services.

 

How do I reduce my risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. As you are at higher risk of a more serious illness if you contract coronavirus you are being advised to stay at home as much as possible and to limit your social contact.

We strongly urge you to take extra care in ensuring you follow all of the recommended precautions.

You need to be extra vigilant, be aware of your symptoms and take the recommended precautionary measures by physically distancing.

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

For further information on COVID-19 virus and symptoms see Croí’s advice here.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel you need medical help, you should follow the guidelines issued by your health authority on how best to seek medical help.

Any heart valve patient with progressive or new onset symptoms, particularly syncope (fainting, ‘passing out’ or collapse) should contact their doctor immediately.

See Croí’s health page for more information on heart valve disease.

The Croí Health Team is here as always if you need support. Contact us by email at healthteam@croi.ie or call 091-544310.

Prioritise COVID-19 testing for patients with underlying conditions

The Irish Platform for Patients, Science and Industry (IPPOSI) calls on the HSE and GPs to prioritise COVID-19 testing for patients with underlying conditions and urges the public not to flood new testing centres unnecessarily.

Last week the HSE announced that it will be rolling out large scale Covid-19 testing throughout Ireland from Monday 16th March. The Irish Platform for Patients, Science and Industry (IPPOSI) says patients with underlying conditions want the HSE and GPs to prioritise testing for them, their families and carers. IPPOSI also calls on the public to act responsibly and not to flood new testing centres and GP surgeries unnecessarily with requests for testing.

Patients with chronic conditions are at particular risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. It is essential that these people are diagnosed quickly and treated immediately and early testing for this community is essential.

Derick Mitchell, CEO of IPPOSI, urges the public to heed government advice on identifying the symptoms of COVID-19, namely having a cough and high temperature, and not to unnecessarily flood GPs and testing centres with requests for testing. “Our patient organisations tell us that their members our increasingly worried about accessing testing with many people self-isolating from family members already while they wait for access to testing.”

IPPOSI says that patients need advice that is targeted at the high risk and vulnerable groups rather than generic help line information currently available. Not only are high risk groups worried about contracting COVID-19 but they are also concerned about the impact on their regular treatments and medicines.  IPPOSI is calling for the following:

  • More streamlined and standardised communication process between the HSE, CHOs and Service Provider organisations as the situation escalates and regular services are impacted.
  • Dedicated contact points be identified within the Department of Health and HSE to ensure effective flow of information with patient organisations and to answer their concerns

IPPOSI also highlights the fact that information overload and false information is causing unnecessary worry and confusion amongst the High Risk Covid community. It urges members of the High Risk Covid community to follow the following guidelines:

  • The patient organisation for your specific disease should be your main information point. Patient organisations are open and are providing timely information updates for their communities regarding COVID-19.
  • Patient organisations are working with their respective clinical programmes and medical advisors in relation to condition-specific information of relevance to their members.
  • If you are worried about prescription medicines supply, please contact your local pharmacist for information. They are the experts in relation to supply of medicines.
  • IPPOSI as a partnership of patient organisations, science and industry is in an unique position to provide updated and reliable information through our Twitter account (@ipposi) & website ipposi.ie and we encourage people to follow these channels.

IPPOSI Chairperson, Ava Battles of MS Ireland added:

“We welcome the work of the National Public Health Emergency Team on COVID-19, in particular the engagement with patient groups and the subgroup for vulnerable people.  It is critical that these engagements provide leadership bringing clarity to the specific issues faced by both patient organisations and vulnerable groups and supports the roll-out of critical responses.

Croí is a proud member of IPPOSI.

Healthy Islands – Oileáin Fholláine

We’re back for #HealthyIslands2020!

The Croí Health Team will be back on the Islands to deliver heart health education workshops in conjunction with your Public Health Nurse, Healthy Ireland at your Library and Galway Rural Development. Healthy Ireland at Your Library provides a range of resources and support to individuals and communities in accessing health information.

Free to attend

– March 10, 2020
– Inishbofin Community Centre, Inishbofin
– 1:00pm – 3.00pm

– March 12, 2020
– Halla Pobail, Inis Oirr
– 11:00am – 3.00pm

– March 26, 2020
– Comharchumann, Inis Mór
– 11:00am – 3.00pm

– April 3, 2020
– Halla Naomh Eoin, Inis Meáin
– 11:00am – 3.00pm

Táimid ar ais d’Oileáin Fholláine 2020!

Beidh Foireann Croí ar ais arís i mbliana ar trí Oileán Árann agus ar Oileán Inis Bófinne le haghaidh ceardlanna oideachas sláinte croí a sheachadadh i gcomhar leis an Altra Slánte Poiblí, le hÉirinn Shláintiúil i do Leabharlann, & Forbairt Tuaithe na Gaillimhe. Soláithraíonn Éire Shláintiúil i do Leabharlann réimse leathan acmhainnní & tacaíocht do dhaoine aonair & don pobal áitiúl maidir le eolas sláinte.

Saor chead isteach

– Márta 10, 2020
– Inishbofin Community Centre, Inishbofin
– 1:00i.n – 3.00i.n.

– Márta 12, 2020
– Halla Pobail, Inis Oirr
– 11:00r.n. – 3.00i.n.

– Márta 26, 2020
– Comharchumann, Inis Mór
– 11:00r.n. – 3.00i.n.

– Aibreán 3, 2020
– Halla Naomh Eoin, Inis Meáin
– 11:00r.n. – 3.00i.n.

Funding partners:

The Healthy Ireland Fund supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018 – 2022 is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Rural and Community Development and co-funded by the European Social Fund under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 – 2020.

Ciste Éire Shláintiúil le tacaíocht ón Roinn Sláinte agus ón Roinn Leanaí & Gnóthaí Óige. Tá an Clár Gníomhachtúcháin Pobail agus Cuimsiú Sóisialta (SICAP) 2018 – 2022 maoinithe ag rialtas na hÉireann trí an Roinn Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail agus arna chómhaoiniú ag Ciste Sóisialta na hEorpa faoi an Clár um Infhostaitheacht, Cuimsiú agus Foghlaim (PEIL) 2014-2020.

Close to the heart – Mayo team to wear Croí’s message in upcoming Mayo vs Kerry game

On February 29th at the Allianz football league game between Mayo and Kerry, with thanks to the generous support of Mayo GAA main sponsors Intersport Elverys, the Mayo team will wear a special one-off jersey carrying Croí’s logo in an effort to put the spotlight on heart health for over 55’s across the county. The jersey will call on people to own their heart health and ‘Check it. Sort it.’

Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, will be on-site at An Sportlann and Elverys MacHale Park to share information about a new initiative, Croí Third Age Mayo. In Ireland and across the world, people are living longer – in fact County Mayo has one of the highest rates of people over the age of 55 compared to the rest of the country. Croí Third Age Mayo is specifically designed to promote and support the cardiovascular health and well-being of the over 55 population. Heart disease, stroke and diabetes are more common as we get older. If detected early, many heart conditions such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat) can be treated so that people can have a longer and better quality of life.

Pre-match Panel

Croí’s recently announced partnership with Mayo GAA is helping to put the spotlight on heart health for over 55’s, with Croí hosting a panel discussion with key Mayo and Kerry former players ahead of the game on February 29th. Everyone is welcome to attend this special event at An Sportlann, Castlebar Mitchels, with Mayo and Kerry footballers to lead the discussion for an hour of chat and reminiscing from 5 – 6pm before the all-important match in Elverys MacHale Park.

Date: Saturday, February 29, 2020
Time: 5 – 6pm
Location: An Sportlann, Castlebar Mitchels

TJ Kilgallon, Andy Moran and Liam McHale will join the Mayo side of the panel, with Marc Ó Sé the first to be announced from the Kerry side. Kilgallon said, “I support any effort to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke… Mayo has one of the highest rates of heart disease in Ireland, and we need to start being more proactive about our health.” Dr. Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist and Croí’s Medical Director will open the panel, with Ballinrobe native Liam Horan as the MC for the evening. Space is limited and seats are first come, first served – no pre-registration is needed.

Follow Mayo GAA (@OfficialMayoGAA) and Croí (@CroiHeartStroke) on Facebook for the latest information and more details on the panel line-up as it is announced.

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Go Red in aid of Croí at their Galway 2020 Ball

2020 is Galway’s year, and the team at Croí are building on this momentum to bring you the Galway 2020 Go Red Ball, supporting the heart and stroke charity.

The Galway 2020 Go Red Ball supporting Croí will take place on Friday, March 20, 2020 at the Galmont Hotel & Spa, Galway. This year’s event is sponsored by laya healthcare, who recently opened the Laya Health & Wellbeing Clinic in Briarhill, Galway. Guests are encouraged to Go Red for Croí by wearing something red – from as little as a splash of red to all red!

Croí’s long history is rooted in Galway, supporting the heart and stroke services across the West of Ireland. Established in 1985, Croí helped to transform cardiac care at Galway University Hospital and in some of the referring hospitals in the region. “We are so proud to say that our donors have helped us impact virtually every level of cardiac care, from prevention to post-hospital recovery, support and rehabilitation,” says Christine Flanagan, Fundraising Director.

Sinéad Proos, Head of Health & Wellbeing at laya healthcare added: “We’re proud to support the invaluable work of Croí in the Galway region particularly as we’re now firmly rooted in the community with our Laya Health & Wellbeing Clinic in Briarhill where members can avail of heart screening services”

The Go Red Ball promises to be a night filled with great food, fun and entertainment – all in support of the fight against heart disease and stroke. The evening will begin with a red cocktail reception, followed by dinner and entertainment with top Irish impressionist, RTE’s Oliver Callan of ‘Callan’s Kicks’. Dancing follows to the sounds of Ireland’s Ultimate Noughties Band, Hollaback and DJ to the early hours.

Don’t miss Galway’s longest-running and largest charity ball! See www.croi.ie/ball for more information, or to reserve tickets contact Christine Flanagan at 091-544062.