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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a New Year’s Resolution to take Control of your Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)!

Galway University Hospitals leading the way with emerging treatments for resistant hypertension

Croí and Heart Specialists at Galway University Hospital are encouraging people to make a New Year’s Resolution this year to take control of their high blood pressure.

“Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. Because there are no obvious symptoms, very often people assume it’s nothing to worry about. However, high blood pressure needs to be treated and managed so as to avoid a serious heart event or a catastrophic stroke,” says Prof. Faisal Sharif, Consultant Cardiologist, Galway University Hospitals.

Startlingly, it is estimated that over half of all adults in Ireland over the age of 45 are living with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure is a sign that the heart and blood vessels are being overworked which in turn increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. It can also lead to other conditions such as aneurysm, heart failure, problems with your vision and kidney failure.

Know Your Numbers!

High blood pressure is when your blood pressure readings are consistently more than 140 over 90 over several readings. If you are on a treatment for high blood pressure, the target for most people is to have a blood pressure below 130/80mmHg, particularly if you have had a cardiac event or stroke, have other risk factors, or have diabetes. Taking control of your blood pressure is a major positive step towards reducing your overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke. You can do this by following the medical advice of your doctor, by having regular check-ups, by taking your medication as prescribed and by making positive lifestyle changes in areas such as diet and exercise.

Difficult to Control Hypertension:

There are a number of reasons why sometimes it may be difficult to control your blood pressure. Firstly, about 15-30% of the population who have high blood pressure do not respond to the blood pressure medications. This is known as “Resistant Hypertension”. Secondly, a large number of patients are intolerant of the blood pressure medications with frequent side effects. Inability to take medications can make it very difficult to manage blood pressure.

A team of consultants in Galway, including Prof Faisal Sharif, are now leading the way in treating this problem at the Difficult to Treat Hypertension Clinic, based in Merlin Park Hospital, which assesses patients and investigates the reason for poor blood pressure control. Despite lifestyle changes and medication changes, if the blood pressure remains elevated patients can be referred for medical device based treatment for high blood pressure. One such treatment is known as Renal Denervation (RDN). RDN is a minimally invasive procedure specifically used to treat resistant hypertension. This procedure can be performed with multiple emerging technologies, including radio-frequency, ultrasound, and chemical ablation methods to modify sympathetic nerves in the renal arteries, which decreases blood pressure.

Act now and take control of your high blood pressure. For more information on hypertension, its treatment, and research currently underway at the Medical Device Clinical Trial Unit based at National University of Ireland and the Department of Cardiology, Galway University Hospital Galway, Ireland, visit

New Report Highlights Recovery Benefits for Heart Patients of New Digital Health Initiative that seeks to Prevent Future Cardiac Events

Outcomes for Croí’s MySláinte Programme Reveals Significant Improvements in Physical Activity, Blood Pressure Control and Cholesterol Levels for Participants

Pictured from left: Irene Gibson, Director of Programmes and Innovation, NIPC and PhD candidate; Dr. Lisa Hynes - Head of Health Programmes, Croí; and Neil Johnson - Chief Executive, Croí.

A report published today on the outcomes of an innovative digital cardiovascular disease prevention and recovery programme developed by Croí, the Irish heart and stroke charity, has found that it has delivered significant health improvements for participants. The report has now been presented to the Minister for Health & Children, Stephen Donnelly TD, who officially opened its virtual launch this afternoon at an event attended by stakeholders.

The Croí MySláinte programme, funded by the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019, had to be delivered virtually due to restrictions on traditional healthcare delivery imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Croí’s pivot to virtual delivery involved the creation of a newly-developed interactive platform, which enabled participants to access the programme from the comfort and safety of their home, including access to pre-recorded videos, resources and links to weekly live Zoom sessions. The core components of the programme included lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation, healthy food choices and physical activity; medical risk factor management of blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose; and electronic prescribing of cardio-protective medication where appropriate.

A total of 105 people, who had experienced a cardiac event such as a heart attack, opted to take part in the initiative. Participants were aged between 35 and 84 years and were referred from cardiac centres across the west of Ireland, including Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Limerick and Donegal. Following a total of 423 virtual consultations over a period of 12 weeks, a range of health improvements resulted for those involved, including:

  • Physical activity levels increased almost six-fold
  • Blood pressure control improved from 24% to 68%
  • LDL cholesterol target achievement increased from 14% to 41%
  • Over half of participants (57%) lost more than 2% of their body weight, with almost a quarter (23%) losing 5% or more
  • Anxiety and depression levels among participants were reduced by more than half.

Many of the participants were also living with other health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, chronic kidney disease and cancer, meaning wider benefits for their other conditions also.

Participants were empowered to manage their health and well-being, stress and emotional eating. Advice was also provided on making and maintaining lifestyle changes in the areas of sleep hygiene, sexual health and returning to work. In addition, participants were provided with a Fitbit device to track their daily exercise activity, as well as blood pressure monitors for home measurement, and food and exercise diaries to help monitor progress towards their goals.

The programme, which was overseen by a consultant cardiologist, was delivered by a specialist interdisciplinary health team comprised of a cardiovascular nurse prescriber, a physiotherapist and a dietitian.

Leading Cause of Death

Dr Lisa Hynes, Head of Health Programmes at Croí, comments:
We know that every year approximately 10,000 people die here from cardiovascular disease or CVD. Globally, and in Ireland, CVD is the leading cause of death and disability with approximately half of all deaths occurring in those with the disease. Cardiac rehabilitation programmes, which are traditionally provided as a face-to-face activity, are proven to reduce cardiovascular death and disability.

Through the virtual Croí MySláinte programme, we’re proud to have developed a new way to deliver this care with clinical outcomes that are comparable with those observed in traditional face-to-face programmes.

“One of the really welcome outcomes of the programme was the improvement in meeting physical activity targets, which increased from 14% to 82%. Achieving this level of physical activity has been shown to provide a 20-30% reduction in cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. Equally, improvements in weight management, LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, anxiety and depression, are all associated with significant reductions in overall cardiovascular risk.

Right Care, Right Place, Right Time

Neil Johnson, CEO of Croí, adds:
The results of this programme speak for themselves and like so many other post-pandemic changes, I believe that future healthcare delivery will never be the same again. I am convinced that the future of cardiovascular health programmes such as this must involve a hybrid approach of both in-person and virtual delivery.

With Croí MySláinte, we saw that age is not a barrier to accessing or participating in a digital online programme. With support, people of any age can engage once they have access to the basics of a device and access to broadband. Our programme saw an uptake of over 70% and retention of over 80%, with participants describing the programme as ‘life-changing’ and ‘life-saving’.

We know that in pre-pandemic Ireland, we had historically poor uptake of cardiovascular disease prevention and rehabilitation programmes. Providing a mix of both online and in-person approaches means that we can improve uptake levels and be responsive to patient needs. Equally, with increased uptake in a more timely manner, we could minimise waiting lists while maximising patient care. All this is directly in line with the Sláintecare mission of providing the right care, in the right place, and at the right time.

The full report and patient testimonials are available to read at

For anyone concerned about their heart health or seeking information on heart disease or stroke, contact Croí’s health team on 091 544310 or visit

To keep up-to-date on the work of Croí, follow @CroiHeartStroke on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Raffle Winners 2021

Raffle winners announced banner

The Annual Croí Golden Ticket Raffle results were announced on Monday, December 20th. The draw took place in Croí House, with a total prize fund of €5,000.


Raffle Winners Announced! Huge congratulations to our winners:

1st prize, €2,000 – winner is Catherine (Kathleen) Joyce, Galway
2nd prize, €1,000 – winner is Joe McKenna, Moycullen
3rd prize, €500 – winner is Olive Fair, Castlebar
4th prize, €250 – winner is Lisa Lovera, Galway
5th prize, €250 – winner is George Ryder, Galway
6th – 15th prize, €100 – winners are: Joe Cunningham, Lackagh; Áine Lyons, Louisburgh; Peter Corley, Galway; Freddy McManamon Hayes, Westport; Suzanne Coombs, Moycullen; Liam Devlin, Ballina; Anna Lopatka, Ballygar; Ray McManus, Galway; Gerard Farrell, Galway; Fionn McGowan, Letrim.

Seller’s prizes, winning a €500 Corrib Oil voucher: Thomas Mahady, Ballina; Ann Smyth, Foxford; Mary O’Dea, Clarinbridge.

Thank you to everyone who purchased or sold tickets. We are overwhelmed by the incredible support shown by our loyal supporters after what was our most challenging year in fundraising. A big thanks also to our sponsors Coen Steel and Corrib Oil for their generous support of the prizes.

Croí’s 2020 Annual Report highlights huge impact across the West

Croí, the heart and stroke charity, has released its 2020 Annual Report, which details its response to the pandemic and the launch of new, award-winning programmes for people living with, or affected by, heart disease and stroke.

“2020 was unquestionably a very challenging year, not only for our organisation, but for our community and those living with or affected by heart disease and stroke. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our lives in ways we didn’t think imaginable, but we are proud to say that Croí stepped up to the challenge and provided support as best we could to the people we serve,” says Neil Johnson, Chief Executive, Croí.

Although the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre was forced to close to the public in early March 2020, Croí offered their Centre to the HSE, who used it as a regional Contact Tracing Centre. The Croí Team adjusted to remote working and developed first-in-Ireland virtual programmes to support people living with heart disease and stroke.

Croí was to the forefront in responding to the needs of patients and carers, who were severely impacted by the pandemic through decreased access to health services, delayed or postponed appointments and procedures, leading to increased levels of anxiety, stress and worry. Croí’s Heartlink West free telephone support line became a vital lifeline for people all across the country, with 80 – 100 calls each week to Croí’s Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist.

“This report illustrates that despite COVID-19, our staff responded to all the challenges; pivoted to online and hybrid health programme delivery, and innovated in digital revenue generation, to allow us achieve our mission of supporting those most in need. As we are funded entirely through our own revenue generation activities, we could not do this important work without the very generous support of our donors, sponsors and volunteers, and for this we are deeply indebted,” says Johnson.

Read the report now on the Croí website,

Heartlink West

Call: 091 544310

Or email:

Croí’s FREE telephone helpline, Heartlink West, is available for those living with, or affected by, heart disease and stroke. When you call, you will be connected with one of our Cardiac Nurse Specialists or you can join one of our weekly, virtual health chats!

Heartlink West is available weekdays from 9am – 5:30pm on 091 544310 or by email at

Heartlink West Virtual Chats

Join our free Heartlink West virtual chats, taking place every Thursday at 11 am via Zoom.

  • Thursday, June 2nd – Eating for a Healthy Heart Register Now

Zoom Training

Make the most of Croí’s online resources with our Zoom Training, taking place every Wednesday at 12 pm sharp, with Bridget Cheasty, Croí’s Health Team Administrator.

By learning how to use Zoom, you can access Croí resources such as:

Sign-Up to Receive the Latest News and Events from the Croí Health Team

Croí Connects

Croí Connects is an online series, where Croí will connect with medical experts for a questions and answers session to help answer your questions on heart disease, stroke, COVID-19 and lots more.


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Heart Conditions:


Have you or a loved one survived a stroke? Join Croí’s Stroke Support Groups online each month.

  • The Croí Galway Stroke Support Group meets virtually via Zoom on the second Thursday of every month at 2:00pm.
  • The Croí Mayo Stroke Support Group meets virtually via Zoom on the last Thursday of every month at 11.30am.

If you want to join and have not used Zoom before, Croí can help. Call us on 091 544310 or email to receive meeting details and technical support.

Risk factors you can change:

Risk Factors you cannot change:

Healthy Eating:

Home Workouts:

Mental Health & Wellbeing:

Booklet Resources:

Click to download

An initiative by Croí, endorsed by Cardiology Services, HSE Saolta University Healthcare Group.

To date, this initiative has been made possible thanks to the very generous support of the following:

Two Top Healthcare Awards for Galway-based Croí and NIPC!

Croí, the heart and stroke charity, won a top award at the 20th anniversary Irish Healthcare Awards on November 15th at a special ceremony in Dublin. In addition, The National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC), established by Croí, scooped an award for “Research Paper of the Year” for the third year in a row! The Irish Healthcare Awards are Ireland’s leading Awards, recognising innovation and excellence in the Irish healthcare sector.

Croí awarded Patient Organisation Project of the Year

Croí’s free telephone support line, Heartlink West, won best Project of the Year in the Patient Organisation category. Launched in response to the pandemic, Heartlink West provides those living with, or affected by, heart disease and stroke a direct line to Croí’s Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist and expert health team. In addition, the support extends to online chats, with an expert speaker and different heart health topic each week.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Croí has been experiencing an ever-increasing demand for information, support and advice from heart and stroke patients and their carers. Our Heartlink West service is here to support those in need, including heart and stroke patients discharged early from hospital, those who had appointments cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, and general heart health concerns,” says Neil Johnson, Croí’s Chief Executive.

Heartlink West is available Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 5:30pm. Call 091-544310 or email See for more information.

Heartlink West is supported entirely through fundraising and funding support from local and national companies. The service is endorsed by the cardiology services of the Saolta University Healthcare Group.

Three in a row for the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health!

The National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC), based in Croí Centre, Galway, won Best Research Paper three years in a row at the Irish Healthcare Awards with The Ireland-ASPIRE Study: A Nationally Representative Epidemiologic Study of Coronary Heart Disease Secondary Prevention to Inform Post-COVID #CVD Prevention in Ireland.

The study, conducted by Prof Bill McEvoy, Research and Medical Director, NIPC, is the first nationally representative Irish study of secondary prevention among patients with coronary heart disease. Over 600 patients were enrolled at nine sites across Ireland, with the results presented at the 2019 Irish Cardiac Society meeting.

Learn more about the work at the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health by visiting

Bridget Cheasty, Croí Health Programmes Administrator & Project Coordinator and Annie Costelloe, Croí Patient & Community Engagement Manager.

Croí’s Golden Ticket Raffle is Here, Just in Time for Christmas!


**A Message From Christine Flanagan, Croí’s Director Of Fundraising**

The last two years have brought us all on a journey. We have been through hard times and have dealt with loss in ways unimaginable. However, we have also come together as a community and have supported one another through it all. This Christmas, more than ever, we at Croí Heart and Stroke Charity need your continued support. Our Golden Ticket Raffle is the perfect way to show your giving spirit. 

I hope you’ll let me tell you about how your generosity can save lives. It’s a story of how support for Croí Heart and Stroke Charity matters to families like in the case of Pat Fox from Elphin, Co Roscommon. And at this time of year, when we hold loved ones close to our hearts, I hope it shows how you can help entire families when you participate in our Golden Ticket Raffle. As we come to the end of 2021, we are in urgent need of generous friends. Two years of the pandemic have dealt a terrible blow to our financial support … but people like Pat don’t need us any less now. That’s why our Golden Ticket Raffle is so critical.

Pat Fox family portrait for the Golden Ticket Raffle
The Fox Family

Each ticket costs just €5, and there are so many great cash prizes to win, with a cash fund of €5,000! Even if you only take one ticket, it will help, but please sell as many as you can. They make great gifts, and you’ll be providing lifesaving gifts to people like Pat. 

Pat’s Story

Pat was a healthy marathon runner as a young man, but decades of long, stressful hours building a business took its toll. In 2005, he suffered a heart attack that required urgent intervention, with Pat needing two stents. Like most people after such a traumatic experience, Pat was frightened and anxious. Every sensation in his chest left him wondering if his life was about to end. His wife and his daughter were even more afraid than he was. When families are confused in the face of heart disease or stroke, they turn to Croí. You can help make sure we’re always here. Through the Golden Ticket Raffle, you’ll help lead the fight to prevent heart disease and stroke in Ireland. You’ll save lives and promote recovery and well-being. 

You see, over the years, Pat made the effort to restore his health. Despite his efforts, Pat’s body still struggled, and two years ago, he had a stroke that damaged some of his memory and verbal skills. He has worked hard to recover these and to continue taking steps to improve his health. He found help by accessing free health programmes from Croí including fitness and lifestyle change programmes, and also by checking in by phone with the Croí health team on the Heartlink West helpline when he had questions. Pat told me how life-changing the support of Croí has been: “I spend a lot of time reading food labels. Thanks to Croí, I know what to avoid. Croí taught me that my heart is a muscle. I didn’t know that. Now I know I have to exercise that muscle to keep it healthy. I exercise 45 minutes every single day!” 

Pat credits the Croí health programme he completed last Christmas with keeping him alive, and he is now a regular participant in our weekly Heartlink West virtual chats, webinars and exercise classes. Thanks to the support of generous friends, we converted many of our programmes to online when COVID-19 made group meetings unsafe. That turned out to be a lifesaving gift to Pat. 

Pat and Carol Fox portait photo
Pat and Carol Fox

You see, in March, Pat was doing his usual morning walk when he felt a little strange with some tightness around his chest. At first, he thought maybe it was just something he ate. “In past times, I would have just pushed onward. But because of what I learned from Croí, I stopped. And when the same thing happened the next day, I went to see a doctor.” He went in for tests, and it was good that he did because he had a serious blockage in a main artery going to his heart and needed another stent to prevent a heart attack! His doctor said, “If you had kept walking, you would have been in serious trouble.”

 If it wasn’t for the generous support of people like yourself, Pat may not be with his family this Christmas. Through your support of our annual Golden Ticket Raffle, you will help support and educate thousands of individuals like Pat to help them recover from a heart attack or stroke, and help prevent recurrences. That’s how you could save lives!

How You Can Help: The Golden Ticket Raffle 

And that’s why I ask you to help make our Golden Ticket Raffle a huge success this Christmas. You can buy tickets yourself or sell them to friends, neighbours, or work colleagues. We even have an online option — just visit

The raffle takes place on December 20th, so there’s even time to request more tickets. Every ticket you sell helps provide education, lifestyle programmes, cardiac research, a home from home in our Courtyard Apartments, and support programmes for families who are dealing with fear and stress caused by heart disease and stroke. 

Pat and his family are eternally grateful to Croí. They encourage you to support the Golden Ticket Raffle this year. Pat says, “As a family, we will never forget the kindness that Croí has shown to us and we hope that we can repay you in the future.” In fact, Pat is planning his own fundraising event in aid of Croí as a way of giving back. 


Christine Flanagan, Director of Fundraising


Croí thanks Night Run participants for their incredible support!

The 7th Annual Croí Night Run, in aid of Croí, the heart and stroke charity, took place virtually on Friday, October 8, with a record number of participants running and walking a 5km in their local area.

“Over 2,800 people joined us this year from every county in Ireland and internationally from dozens of countries including Australia, USA, Brazil, the UK and more! We are so grateful to everyone who joined us for this event. It’s one of our favourite events of the year and we love seeing all of our Croí friends out running and walking in support of people living with heart disease,” says Christine Flanagan, Croí’s Director of Fundraising.

With thanks to Croí’s new Night Run sponsor Irish Life Health and media partner, iRadio, 100% of the proceeds will go directly to supporting Croí services. This includes supporting our health and support programmes including Heartlink West (our free community phone line) and the Croí Courtyard Apartments, free to families in need while their loved ones receive heart or stroke care.

Edel McDermott, spokesperson from Irish Life Health commented, “It was fantastic to see so many people participate in this year’s event. A huge thank you to the 1,700 people who joined our MyLife challenge and tracked their run. Thanks to their efforts, we are delighted to announce that together with MyLife, Irish Life Health are donating a further €5,000 to Croí.”

Save the date for next year, Friday October 7, 2022! For more information on Croí, please visit

Fingers on the Pulse for Stroke Awareness

In recognition of World Stroke Day, Croí, the heart and stroke charity, will host a special free webinar on Thursday, October 28th from 7-8pm using Zoom. Register now at, or call Croí on 091-544310.

The webinar will focus on stroke prevention and how you can reduce your risk of having a stroke. Leading risk factors for stroke include atrial fibrillation (a common heart rhythm disorder). Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an age-related condition associated with almost one in three strokes in Ireland. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and other factors.

“Knowing your risk factors is the first step in preventing a stroke. Our panel of experts will share their insights on how you can reduce your risk and be stroke aware,” says Dr Lisa Hynes, Croí Head of Health Programmes.

Expert speakers on the evening include Prof Rónán Collins, Geriatrician & Stroke Physician, Clinical Lead of the Irish National Stroke Programme; Prof Briain McNeill, Consultant Cardiologist; Trish Galvin, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Stroke Care; Declan Fahy, Stroke Survivor; and Edward Cherry, a patient who received ablation treatment for atrial fibrillation.

Annually, approximately 7,000 people in Ireland suffer a stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is suddenly interrupted or cut off. As a result, the brain is deprived of necessary oxygen and nutrients, leaving it damaged. A stroke is like a brain attack and it can affect people of all ages, but is more common as we age. Register now and submit your questions for the experts at, or call Croí on 091-544310. Don’t miss this special event – know how to lower your risk of stroke and how to recognise the signs and symptoms.

Don’t forget, Croí’s Heartlink West free telephone support line can answer your stroke-related questions – available Monday to Friday, 9am – 5:30pm, on 091-544310, or by emailing

This webinar is supported by Get Smart About AFib (