The power of cycling: Pat Horan, 70, shares his recovery story

This week is Men’s Health Week. Croí cyclist, Pat Horan, shares his story to help raise awareness and support others.

Pat Horan, from Aglish in North Tipperary, credits his daily hour of cycling for keeping him fit and healthy at 70 years of age. Well known as the owner of Pat Horan Motors, a family run business with motorhomes and campers for sale, Pat is gearing up for the Croí Corrib Cycle, in aid of a charity that is very close to his heart.

In 2017, while Pat was out for his daily cycle and only one mile from home, he lost all energy and knew something wasn’t right. He didn’t have the typical heart attack symptoms of chest pain, but he knew he needed to get to the doctor right away. Pat was rushed to Limerick where he received stents in his heart, and then was referred to Dublin for a triple heart bypass.

Pat went to great lengths to reduce his risk of heart disease, even cutting out butter, sugar and salt from his diet over 25 years ago, but Pat’s family history was something that could not be modified. His advice for people recovering from heart surgery is to get out and get active: “You will be sore, but get out and go for a walk. Fresh air is amazing… do what you can and drink plenty of water,” says Horan.

Pat credits cycling and his fitness level for keeping him alive. “I go at my own pace, I like cycling on my own as there is no pressure. I head off at 8am in the morning and it sets me up for the day,” says Horan.

Pat on his bike

Pat is a motor sport enthusiast, and is looking forward to the restrictions being lifted so he can travel to Europe again to compete in the rallies with his youngest daughter, Noelle, his co-pilot. They have been invited to the Goodwood Festival of Speed for the last number of years and also have taken part in the Legendary Eifel Rally Festival.

Pat is looking forward to a great day out at the Croí Corrib Cycle on Sunday, July 11th. Learn more and register now at croi.ie/cycle. Funds raised support Croí’s work in fighting heart disease and stroke.

Ask the Experts at Free Croí Webinar

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Scroll down to watch back on our previous webinars!

Are you, or a loved one, living with atrial fibrillation? Join Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, and leading experts for a public webinar to learn how to manage this irregular heartbeat. The free webinar takes place online using Zoom on Thursday, June 24th, from 7–8pm.

Register now and submit your questions for the experts or call Croí on 087-9217574. Don’t miss this special event!

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is the name for the most common type of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). If you are living with AFib, it means that your heart beats in a disorganised way. This chaotic activity leads to an irregular, and usually fast, pulse rate, which may cause palpitations and increase the risk of having stroke, heart failure or other heart-related complications.

The interactive panel discussion will address your priorities and concerns for living with AFib. Experts on the night include: Paul Nolan, Chief II Cardiac Physiologist at Galway University Hospital; Dr. Jonathan Lyne, Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist at Blackrock Clinic; and Eileen Joyce, Psychotherapist, who was diagnosed with AFib last year and will share her experience from a patient’s perspective.

“Atrial fibrillation is not immediately life-threatening in the same way as some irregular heartbeats are. Most people are able to live full and active lives with AFib. You can do this by taking your prescribed medication, following the medical advice you received from your doctor, having regular medical check-ups and making positive lifestyle changes,” says Dr Lisa Hynes, Croí’s Head of Health Programmes.

Register now at www.croi.ie/webinar, or call Croí on 091-544310.

 

The event is supported by 

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Past events

Managing your High Blood Pressure, May 20th, 2021

Croí’s Managing your High Blood Pressure webinar took place on May 20, 2021 and featured an expert panel of speakers, including: Prof. Bill McEvoy, Consultant Cardiologist, University Hospital Galway; Dr. Barry McDonnell, Cardiovascular Physiologist, Cardiff Metropolitan University; and Dr. Gerry Molloy, Health Psychologist, NUI Galway.

Living well with cardiovascular disease, April 29th 2021

Croí’s Living well with cardiovascular disease webinar took place on April 29, 2021 and featured an expert panel of speakers, including: Prof. Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist; Dr. Cathy McHugh, Consultant Endocrinologist; Aisling Harris, Croí’s Cardiac & Weight Management Dietitian.

The programme is funded by the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019, under Grant Agreement Number 121 to support the delivery of services which focus on prevention, community care and integration of care across all health and social care settings.

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Mayo Cyclists take on ‘Everesting’ challenge in aid of Croí & Mayo Mental Health Services

A group of Mayo mountain bike enthusiasts are taking on the Everesting challenge – ascending and descending a total of 8,848 metres, the elevation of Mount Everest, to raise much-needed funds for Croí, the heart and stroke charity, and Mayo Mental Health Services. The off-road cycle challenge, happening on June 19th, will take place on the iconic pilgrimage trail of the Western Way, which is located on the Westport side of Croagh Patrick.

The trail being used in this challenge, known locally named as Skelp, is 700m long with 88m of elevation per ascent. To achieve the 8,848 meters needed to complete this challenge, the team will ascend the mountain over 100 times! This challenge will be intensely physical and will be a huge test of the group’s physical, mental and technical endurance.

The mountain bikers are among the first-in-Ireland to take on an off-road Everesting challenge, also claiming three extra Everesting achievements with the route ticking the classification of ‘Soil’ – requiring you to get dirty whilst climbing; ‘Short’ – you have to go steep; and ‘Significant’ – a climb that is iconic.

The Mayo mountain bike group, led by Padraig Marrey from Ballinrobe, are trying to promote off-road cycling and bring it to the masses. “If we can get kids off-roading from an early age it will make them better bike handlers. It’s so much fun and a great way to keep kids involved in cycling,” says Marrey.

Donate now in support of this incredible challenge, in aid of two local charities. Visit www.idonate.ie/everestingoffroad or contact padraigmarrey@gmail.com

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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 June 8th

What do the latest restrictions mean?

We are now in the recovery phase of the response to the pandemic – reopening society and the economy as the vaccination programme progresses. However, we need to continue to follow the public health guidelines in these coming weeks. Practising those individual everyday measures is what will secure Ireland’s recovery from the pandemic.

The vaccination programme continues to make significant progress and the Government is now in a position to lift a number of public health restrictions during June. Plans for further easing of measures over the summer, subject to prevailing public health advice, have also been set out.

Read about the current government restrictions on gov.ie

Reminder: 

  • Washing your hands properly and often will help to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wearing a face covering reduces the spread of COVID-19. It also helps stop the spread of the virus from people who may not know they have it. By law, you have to wear a face covering on public transport in shops, shopping centres and some other indoor settings. You should also wear a face covering when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult and in busy outdoor spaces where a lot of people gather.

Covid-19 Vaccinations 

Should I get the vaccine?

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a highly infectious disease which can cause serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.

COVID-19 vaccines offer protection from COVID-19. If you do catch COVID-19 after vaccination, you should be protected from the serious illness the virus can sometimes cause.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is not mandatory. But we strongly recommend that you get your vaccine when it’s offered to you.

People who are most at risk from COVID-19 will be vaccinated first.

There’s no charge for getting your COVID-19 vaccine. It’s free. You can not get it privately.

When will I be vaccinated?

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is underway. Vaccines are being given as soon as possible after they arrive in Ireland. The HSE’s priorities are safety and working to protect people as quickly as we can. The rollout of vaccines will only be limited by supply. People who are most at risk from COVID-19 are being vaccinated first.

For further information on when you are likely to receive you vaccine, see here.

Is the vaccine safe?

The work to develop COVID-19 vaccines moved much faster than usual to make them available as soon as possible.

They have still gone through all the usual steps needed to develop a safe and effective vaccine. No short-cuts were taken.

COVID-19 vaccines could be developed quicker than usual because:

  • There was huge, global investment into their research.
  • The high number of new cases of COVID-19 across the world meant the vaccine trials could quickly measure differences in disease risk.
  • Large scale manufacturing of vaccines started before the results of trials were available.
  • Regulators and those developing the vaccines started their conversations very early so, the authorisation process could be as quick as possible.

For further information about the COVID-19 vaccines licensed for use in Ireland, see here.

COVID-19 vaccine information for heart patients

Read the European Society of Cardiology’s question page here. 

More Information

A message from Prof. Bill McEvoy, Consultant Cardiologist

A message from Prof. Bill McEvoy, Consultant Cardiologist, Medical and Research Director National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health, Croí Heart and Stroke Centre.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on all our lives. While we still have much to learn about this disease and the virus that causes it, we do know that adults with underlying medical conditions – inclusive of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease – tend to have worse outcomes and become sicker when stricken by COVID-19. This is particularly true for adults over 70 years. While the death rate from this infection is less than 1% for most people, it can rise to 5-10% among the very old and those with many underlying medical conditions. Therefore, this is a serious disease that deserves ongoing our attention and vigilance.

One of the less known issues with COVID-19 is that it can result in complications among infected adults who were previously healthy. While these adults have a very high chance of surviving the infection (over 99%), they are consequently vulnerable to any long-term side effects and complications from the virus. Without doubt, these long-term complications appear to be UNCOMMON; however, they do exist. For example, we know that, in rare cases, COVID-19 can injure the heart (leading to damage from a condition called myocarditis or ‘type 2 myocardial infarction’). The frequency with which these cardiac complications happen, the exact reasons why they happen (hypothesized to be related to inflammation or an increased propensity for blood clotting among those infected), and the reversibility or responsiveness to treatment of these complications remains an open question. Long-term complications in other body organs have been reported also, so this concern is not just unique to the heart.

Therefore, until these questions are answered, I encourage you all, even if young and healthy, to take this disease seriously. If you do get infected, your chances of a complete recovery are very high. We should not live in fear. However, why take any chances, 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.

Key Messages

The key messages remain the same. We need to Stay Safe.

  • Physical distancing should continue to be maintained at all times.
  • Continue to follow good hand washing, respiratory hygiene and physical distancing because we know these work and are now more important than ever.
  • Face coverings are now required on public transport and should be worn in shops and shopping centres and in situations where physical distancing is not possible. For further guidelines and information about how to correctly fit/ remove face mask visit the HSE website.
  • If you have cold or flu like symptoms, even mild ones, it is important to isolate at home and call your GP
  • People over 70 years and the extremely medically vulnerable, remain at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and are advised to take extra caution. This includes people living with cardiovascular disease.  It is important that you continue to attend essential medical services such as GPs and receive medical care at home (if appropriate) to protect your health and wellbeing.

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

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.

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 advice below regarding 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 it may not be possible to continue outdoors, please visit the Croí 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?

  • Try to stay at home as much as possible.
  • Avoid physical contact with other people.
  • Limit your social interactions to a small social group for short periods of time – this is sometimes called a “social bubble”.
  • People who visit to help care for you should still attend as long as they have no symptom’s 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.
  • If you need to contact your GP, use the telephone.
  • You may leave the house to get fresh air or exercise within 5km of your home, if social distancing is observed.

 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
  • 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 include 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
  • Loss of taste or sense of smell

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.

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.

In accordance with recent guidelines, people should stay at home as much as possible to limit close contacts. You should only leave home to:

  • Go to work
  • Take children to school or childcare
  • Go to shops for essential supplies
  • Care for others
  • Attend hospital and medical appointments
  • 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
  • Make a joint plan with family friends and neighbours on what to do if you become ill

Travel

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

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 arrive at 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

Further information

For further information you can visit the following websites:

Further information on latest updates can be found on the Government’s website.

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.

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.

Caring for each other: Padraic and Delia’s Story

This week, June 7th, is National Carers Week. Croí chatted with Padraic Costello, who shares his story with his wife, Delia. 

Padraic Costello and his wife, Delia, from Ballinrobe Co. Mayo, have been married for 45 years, with 5 children and 12 grandchildren. The couple have had to overcome many health challenges in the last couple of years, but Padraic remains optimistic, telling people to always “look at the glass half full”.

In 2013, Padraic was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but was treated immediately and made a great recovery. After, in 2016, Padraic was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and understandably, himself and Delia became worried. After returning home from a holiday to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in 2016, Delia began to complain of very bad headaches. Padraic brought her straight to the doctor, in which the doctor put it down to stress due to her husband’s illness. However, the pain never seemed to go away, and Delia began to get worse. Several weeks later, they discover that Delia was suffering a stroke and she was brought straight to Dublin for treatment.

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From that day on, Padraic stayed by Delia’s side and became her primary carer. “She was there for me, and now it’s my turn to care for her”, says Padraic. Padraic drove his camper-van to the hospital in Dublin, parked in the car park, and lived there for 3 weeks while Delia received treatment. Bringing Delia home was a big change for them both, but Padraic credits the support he received from his children, especially as he battled his own illness. Padraic made all the necessary adjustments to their house in preparation for Delia’s return.

Although Padraic was now caring for his wife, he still wanted to regain some normality. Padraic and Delia will regularly go for spins at the weekend and, being such a big fan of the matches himself, Padraic even brought Delia to Croagh Park to see Mayo vs. Dublin in the All Ireland! He says, “there’s a lot more planning and researching needed now whenever we want to do something, but it’s worth it to enjoy a bit of normality together”.

Padraic and Delia regularly attend Croí’s Stroke Support Groups, which welcome both stroke survivors and their family members and carers. This week is National Carers Week and Croí wants to raise awareness about the amazing work carers do. Padraic has a message for carers, particularly those looking after loved ones, “I am grateful to be as good as I am today, but of course, there are bad days. But everybody has bad days. You just can’t let the bad days take over the good days”.

To learn more or join Croí’s Stroke Support Group, visit our stroke webpage, or email healthteam@croi.ie.

Croí Courtyard Apartments Revamped for Families in Need

Croí, the heart and stroke charity, provides a vital accommodation service to the families of loved-ones receiving heart or stroke care in Galway, recognising the important role loved-ones play in a patient’s recovery. The three ground-floor Courtyard Apartments at Croí House offer a free place to stay just a ten-minute walk from Galway University Hospital.

The Courtyard Apartments at Croí are in high-demand and open all year-around, with Croí supporting over 100 families each year from across Ireland and the globe. The apartments offer a safe and comfortable place for families to stay during a very difficult time, when their loved-one is receiving heart or stroke urgent care.

With thanks to the generosity of Aurivo, the globally-focussed Agribusiness which is headquartered in the North West of Ireland, funds raised through the co-op’s Charity of the Year Programme have contributed to a recent refurbishment of the Courtyard Apartments, which are beautifully revamped and ready to welcome families once again. Over the course of 2019, Aurivo employees organised many fundraising events in aid of Croí, with funds generously matched by the co-op.

Commenting on the re-launch of the Courtyard Apartments, Donal Tierney, Aurivo CEO said: “Aurivo is delighted to give back to the local community and support Croí and their work. This charity is close to our hearts as some of our staff and their families have benefitted from their services. We take great pride in our Charity of the Year Programme and it is an important part of our Corporate Social Responsibility and Origin Green Sustainability Strategy.”

Pictured from left: Raymond Barlow, Chairman, Aurivo, Neil Johnson, CEO, Croí, Donal Tierney, CEO, Aurivo; Marilyn Philips, Group Head of Human Resources; Christine Flanagan, Director of Fundraising, Croí.

Aurivo witnessed first-hand the importance of the Courtyard Apartments when a member of their team required the service. Energy Manager, Marty Dervin, from Ballina, has worked with Aurivo for over 30 years. He travelled to Galway in February 2019 after experiencing a problem with his heart stents. Marty, who suffered a heart attack in 2011, had previously been unaware of the Courtyard Apartments: “Croí facilitated me and my family with a place to stay and the opportunity to have my procedure carried out on the day rather than a reappointment with prolonged anxiety and waiting. It is brilliant to have a facility like this in Galway. I am delighted that Aurivo supported Croí as our Charity of the Year for 2019. Croí is close to our hearts.”

Speaking at the re-launch of the Courtyard Apartments, Croí CEO Neil Johnson said: “This generous support by Aurivo and our community will allow Croí to continue to provide much-needed accommodation for people at a time when they need to be as close as possible to a loved-one. We could not provide these facilities without this support, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their incredible and continuing contributions.”

To learn more about the Courtyard Apartments at Croí, please see here.

Croí Corrib Cycle Announces Exciting New Routes for 2021

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN FOR CROÍ!

Croí, the heart and stroke charity, has announced the return of its annual Croí Corrib Cycle with a special, limited-capacity ride-out taking place on Sunday, July 11.

Following last year’s cycle cancellation due to COVID-19, the hugely popular fundraising event is returning with an exciting new innovation for 2021 which will see the cycle starting and finishing in the picturesque village of Maam Cross. 2021 is the 27th year of the Croí Corrib Cycle and Croí is especially proud that Corrib Oil has been its primary sponsor during all of that time, since the very first ride-out in 1995.

With so many people eager to get out and see the world again, and with such a picturesque itinerary and a great cause to support, interest is expected to be intense this year. In line with COVID-19 guidelines, places will be limited to a maximum of 300 participants and start times will be staggered to allow for social distancing.

Participants are therefore being urged to sign up early to secure their spot on the start line in Maam Cross – simply visit www.croi.ie/cycle or contact fundraising@croi.ie

There will be two scenic routes to choose from – an 80km and a 110km option. Both routes will start and finish within the grounds of Peacockes Hotel in Maam Cross. The 80km route will take cyclists from Maam Cross, towards Leenane, along Loch na Fooey, towards Finny, Clonbur, Cornamona and finishing back in Maam Cross. The 110km route will take cyclists along a similar starting route before venturing to Toormakeady, Maumtrasna, Clonbur and returning to Maam Cross.

Ride On!
Christine Flanagan, Croí Fundraising Director, is thrilled to be hosting events in the real world once more:

“We are delighted that our first physical fundraising event of the year will be our cycle on July 11. This cycle is synonymous with Croí and we are really looking forward to getting people back safely on their bikes and on the roads around Maam Cross. All funds raised from this event are vitally important to us to ensure that we can continue our work at Croí, leading the fight against heart disease and stroke in the West of Ireland.”

Registration costs €150, of which €50 is to be paid upon registration. Participants then have the option to either fundraise the additional €100 or pay the full amount on registration. Roadside assistance, support vehicles, refreshment stops and post-cycle food will be provided on the day, with social distancing and safety precautions uppermost in mind. All registered cyclists will receive a specially-designed Croí cycle jersey, water bottle and face covering, as well as being entered into a raffle to win a fantastic cycling equipment package courtesy of West Side Cycles.

Register now at www.croi.ie/cycle

Croí Marks World Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Day with Free Webinar

Are you, or a loved one, living with high blood pressure? Join Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, and leading experts for a public webinar to learn how to manage your high blood pressure. The free webinar takes places online using Zoom on Thursday, May 20th, from 1 – 2pm.

Expert guest speakers on the day include Prof Bill McEvoy, Consultant Cardiologist, University Hospital Galway; Dr Barry McDonnell, Cardiovascular Physiologist, Cardiff Metropolitan University; and Dr Gerry Molloy, Health Psychologist, NUI Galway. The interactive panel discussion will address your priorities and concerns for living with high blood pressure. This event is in recognition of World Hypertension Day (May 17th).

Register now and submit your questions for the experts at www.croi.ie/webinar, or call Croí on 091-544310. Don’t miss this special event!

“Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s startling to know that Ireland has one of the highest rates of high blood pressure internationally, but among the lowest levels of diagnosis, treatment and control of the condition. Join us and connect with the experts at this free Croí webinar,” says Dr Lisa Hynes, Croí’s Head of Health Programmes.

The programme is funded by the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019, under Grant Agreement Number 121 to support the delivery of services which focus on prevention, community care and integration of care across all health and social care settings.

Five Things You Should Know in Taking Control of Your Blood Pressure

  1. Be informed. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, happens when the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is too high. Left untreated, it can significantly increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
  2. Get checked out. Known as a silent killer, high blood pressure usually has no symptoms. So, the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked out.
  3. Know your pressure. You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. The recommended target level for blood pressure is <140/90 mmHg, however, if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or have previously had a stroke, you may be prescribed a lower target.
  4. Minimise the risks. There are steps you can take to lower blood pressure, by maintaining a healthy weight and becoming more physically active, stopping smoking, avoiding added salt, drinking alcohol in moderation, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables, and learning ways to cope with stress.
  5. You can be treated. If lifestyle measures on their own are not effective in keeping your blood pressure under control, then you may need to take prescribed medications in addition. These are usually for the rest of your life.

Croí Marks World Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Day in Mayo

The Croí Third Age Mayo project, which aims to promote healthy cardiovascular ageing, will mark World Hypertension Day (May 17) with a free public webinar with expert speakers discussing how participants can manage their high blood pressure. The webinar will take place lunchtime on Thursday, May 20 from 1-2 pm with expert speakers including, Prof Bill McEvoy, Consultant Cardiologist, University Hospital Galway; Dr Barry McDonnell, Cardiovascular Physiologist, Cardiff Metropolitan University; and Dr Gerry Molloy, Health Psychologist, NUI Galway. Register for free here.

In a separate initiative from May 17, Croí Third Age Mayo will partner with ten local pharmacies as part of a blood pressure measurement pilot programme. This initiative will see free blood pressure checks offered throughout the week to people over 55 years of age who have not had their blood pressure checked in the past year. Members of the public found to have high blood pressure will be offered advice and information, as well as the opportunity to take part in a free blood pressure management programme, delivered by the Croí multi-disciplinary health team.

The pharmacies participating in the pilot programme are Molloy’s Pharmacy in BallinaCrossmolina, Ballaghaderreen and Achill, Treacy’s Pharmacy in Castlebar, Westport and Ballinrobe, and O’Donnell’s Pharmacy and McVann’s Pharmacy in Westport.

People over 55 years of age interested in a free blood pressure check can simply contact one of the participating pharmacies to book an appointment, which are subject to availability. Further information on Croí Third Age Mayo, and this pilot programme, can be found at croi.ie/third-age-mayo-bp. The blood pressure measurement programme will expand to include more pharmacies in the county with further checks to be held later in the year.

High Rates of High BP

Mayo is among the counties in Ireland with the highest proportion of people over 55 years of age, having almost a third of the population in this age category. Between 30-40% of people in Ireland are unaware that they have high blood pressure. Ireland has one of the highest rates of high blood pressure internationally, but among the lowest levels of diagnosis, treatment and control of the condition.

For Croí Chief Executive, Neil Johnson, this initiative marks the beginning of a county-wide effort to improve our cardiovascular health: “One of the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been reduced access to routine health checks, with implications for delayed detection and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure. We are delighted therefore to announce this pilot initiative marking World Hypertension Day. Starting with a pilot among these ten pharmacies, our aim is to then spread the blood pressure message far and wide across the county of Mayo in the coming months with other blood pressure management events.”

Own it. Check it. Sort it.

Five Things You Should Know in Taking Control of Your Blood Pressure.

  1. Be informed. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, happens when the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is too high. Left untreated, it can significantly increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
  2. Get checked out. Known as a silent killer, high blood pressure usually has no symptoms. So, the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked out.
  3. Know your pressure. If over 55 years, you should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. The recommended target level for blood pressure is <140/90 mmHg, however, if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or have previously had a stroke, you may be prescribed a lower target.
  4. Minimise the risks. There are steps you can take to lower blood pressure, by maintaining a healthy weight and becoming more physically active, stopping smoking, avoiding added salt, drinking alcohol in moderation, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables, and learning ways to cope with stress.
  5. You can be treated. If lifestyle measures on their own are not effective in keeping your blood pressure under control, then you may need to take prescribed medications in addition. These are usually for the rest of your life.

Croí Win Prestigious International Accreditation

Neil Johnson, CEO at Croí with the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) accreditation in cardiovascular risk management and prevention.

Local Heart & Stroke Charity, Croí, has received major international recognition in being the first Irish organisation to be accredited by the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) for its work in cardiovascular risk management and prevention. Croí is one of only eleven organisations across Europe to be awarded the status for its Croí Heart & Stroke Centre in Galway.

The purpose-built facility opened in November 2012 and is a leading centre for heart and stroke prevention, research, education, support and rehabilitation. The centre is also home to the Croí Courtyard Apartments which allow family members to be as close as possible to patients receiving cardiac or stroke care in University Hospital Galway. Since the onset of the pandemic, Croí has nimbly responded to the needs of patients and carers through a range of supports and services. Last year, Croí’s Heartlink West free telephone and virtual support service responded to over 3,000 queries. Additionally, 384 people at risk of or living with cardiovascular disease participated in a range of online structured lifestyle, education and recovery programmes. These include the innovative cardiac prevention and rehabilitation programme, Croí MySláinte, and the specialised obesity programme, CLANN. The Croi MySláinte Programme was one of a number of specially selected initiatives funded through Sláintecare Innovation Funding.

The announcement follows an assessment and benchmarking of Croí’s cardiovascular risk management and prevention work under a range of performance indicators. These include standards around care protocols, staff training, equipment and facilities, and management of its centre. As part of the assessment process, a scientific review of Croí’s work was undertaken by two experts from the EAPC. Accreditation is for an initial period of three years.

Members of the Croí Team, from left: Annie Costelloe, Health Administrator and Patient & Community Engagement Manager, Croí; Prof. Bill McEvoy, Medical and Research Director, NIPC; Irene Gibson, Director of Programmes and Innovation, NIPC (Centre); Dr. Lisa Hynes, Head of Health Programmes, Croí; Prof. Jim Crowley, Medical Director, Croí & President of Irish Cardiac Society.

Setting Standards

Congratulating Croí, Prof Martin Halle, President of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology, commented:

“With this accreditation programme, the European Association of Preventive Cardiology aims to set standards for preventive cardiology practice, thus improving quality of care and cardiovascular health. The EAPC accreditation programme enables centres to document that the care they provide is sound and based on the latest guidelines, that infrastructure is in place, that a multi-disciplinary team is present and well-trained, and that procedures are organised in an adequate way. We congratulate Croí on this achievement.”

Responding Swiftly

For Neil Johnson, CEO, Croí, the award is a recognition of the professionalism and dedication of staff:

“This award is a recognition of the professionalism and dedication of our health team who work tirelessly in the fight against heart disease and stroke. At Croí, we are committed to delivering a range of programmes, interventions and supports with medical oversight, which are best practice and evidence-based. I wish to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of my colleagues who in the midst of this pandemic have swiftly responded to the needs of patients and carers with a range of new online supports and services. These include the Heartlink West COVID-19 response service, the development of online cardiac rehabilitation, exercise and dietetic programmes, and virtual stroke support groups. For anyone concerned about their heart health or seeking information on heart disease or stroke, I would encourage them to get in touch with our health team today on 091 544310 or by email at info@croi.ie