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.



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 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 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 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.


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 for more information, or to reserve tickets contact Christine Flanagan at 091-544062.

Mayo GAA Creates Healthy Partnerships for 2020

Mayo GAA has joined forces with both Mindspace Mayo and Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, as its official health partners for 2020.

Mayo GAA will work with both partners throughout 2020 to raise awareness of the services both Mindspace Mayo and Croí can offer to supporters to ensure they can stay on top of their mental and physical health. One of the highlights of this partnership will be a special one off Mayo jersey carrying the Croí logo on the front of it for the upcoming Allianz football league game between Mayo and Kerry in Elverys MacHale Park on February 29th. We also thank our main sponsors Intersport Elverys for allowing us to produce this one off jersey for this game.

Commenting on the initiative Mayo GAA chairperson Liam Moffat said, “The mental health and wellbeing of everyone involved in our game is a growing focus for us, and we are proud to partner with Mindspace to encourage our players and supporters to stay connected and ask for help if they’re struggling. Mental health is an issue affecting so many workplaces, families and sporting organisations. We shouldn’t shy away from it and I encourage anyone who needs support to reach out.”

“Likewise Croí offer vital services to people all over the country and in particular the West of Ireland on raising awareness about the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. In particular, the launch of Croí Third Age Mayo is putting the spotlight on heart health for the over 55’s across the county. We look forward to working with both organisations aswell as engaging with our clubs and supporters on how they can look after themselves both on and off the pitch in 2020”.

Mindspace Mayo’s Project Manager Peadar Gardiner praised Mayo GAA’s holistic approach to youth mental health as a positive step in the right direction. “We are delighted to partner with Mayo GAA. It’s encouraging to see important community organisations such as the Mayo GAA elevate mental health by recognising it as an essential aspect in the lives of their players, members and the broader community.Mayo GAA’s decision to truly commit to the outcomes of the partnership by encompassing club, community engagement, education and fundraising across the Mindspace service will make this partnership a game-changer.”

Croí CEO Neil Johnson added: “This great partnership allows us to highlight the importance of healthy and active ageing across County Mayo. In Ireland and across the world people are living longer, and Mayo has one of the highest rates of people over the age of 55 compared to the rest of the country. As we age, heart disease and stroke become more prevalent. Croí Third Age Mayo promotes and supports the heart health and well-being of the over 55 population in the county. We are excited to share more at the upcoming Mayo and Kerry game on February 29th. We’re very grateful to Mayo GAA for supporting us in putting a spotlight on heart health for over 55’s.”

Aurivo raises €40,000 for heart and stroke charity

A cheque to the value of €40,000 has been presented by Aurivo representatives to the heart and stroke charity ‘Croí’.

According to a statement issued by Aurivo today, Friday, February 7, the company’s employees organised numerous fundraising events for the charity as part of the co-op’s ‘Charity of the Year’ programme.

Commenting on the announcement, Donal Tierney, Aurivo’s CEO, said: “Aurivo is delighted to give back to the local community and support Croí and their work. 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.”

The funds raised by Aurivo staff and matched by the co-op will be used to refurbish Croí’s three self-contained apartments that are open 365 days a year and have been used by people from all over Ireland.

Speaking about the partnership with Aurivo, Croí CEO Neil Johnson said: “This generous support by Aurivo 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 who is receiving cardiac or stroke care in Galway University Hospital. We were delighted to engage with Aurivo throughout the year in support of their fundraising efforts and our community nurses have been involved in health-check programmes for Aurivo staff and at local marts.”

Concluding, Pat Duffy, Aurivo chairman, said: “Our dedicated staff have put in huge effort to host fundraising events throughout 2019.

“The Charity of the Year Programme allows our staff, members and customers to work alongside one another in the local community to raise vital funds for our charity partners.”


Kavanagh Group support Croí’s life-saving work in Mayo

Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, is delighted to have been chosen as Kavanagh Group’s 2020 Charity of the Year, and the two organisations have lots of great events planned to help raise awareness of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke across County Mayo.

On Friday, February 7, the Croí Health Team visited four of the Kavanagh Group stores, including Westport, Castlebar, Kiltimagh and Claremorris, delivering free heart health checks to customers and to celebrate the launch of this great new partnership.

“We are so delighted to have been chosen by the Kavanagh Group as Charity of the Year. Our work in Mayo is so important – we want to raise awareness of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke as so many of these cases are preventable! The support of Kavanagh Group allows us to continue our life-saving work and support the people of Mayo,” says Christine Flanagan, Croí Director of Fundraising.

The Kavanagh Group employs over 1,100 people across Ireland and the UK and is one of Ireland’s largest independent retailing companies, operating 14 supermarkets along with a number of other businesses, including the Wyatt Hotel, O’Cee’s Coffee Shop, and SuperValu Homewares Store. “We are very excited to join forces with Croí in the fight against heart disease and stroke. We want to promote good health and well-being with our employees and customers, and Croí’s work in Mayo is so important for the community,” says Noel Kavanagh Jnr, Managing Director.

The Kavanagh Group have lots of exciting events planned for 2020 in support of Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity. Keep an eye on their social media pages and @croiheartstroke. For heart health information, please visit for expert advice from the Croí Health Team.



The findings of a major research study from The National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC) and The National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) call into question the validity of recent changes to treatment recommendations for a certain type of blood pressure patient.

The study has challenged an element of the new, lower, blood pressure thresholds recommended in recently released American medical guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure (also termed hypertension).  These US guidelines changed the definition of hypertension from a blood pressure of 140/90 or more, to a blood pressure of 130/80 or more. Subsequently, guidelines from European clinical societies also recommended that most adults being treated for high blood pressure be treated to the new lower target of 130/80.

These high blood pressure guidelines are observed widely in Ireland and as a result, as many as 150,000 patients with a bottom blood pressure number of over 80, but a normal top blood pressure number below 130 are potentially at risk of being over-treated according to the NIPC/NUIG research. This is because the study found that this specific type of blood pressure pattern does not appear to be adversely affecting their health. Of note, blood pressure levels are denoted by two numbers, one above the other where, for example, a blood pressure level may be written as 130/80.  The top number is known as the systolic, and the bottom number is known as the diastolic reading.

The NIPC and NUIG investigation, led by Prof J William McEvoy, Medical and Research Director of the NIPC, was conducted in collaboration with US investigators and is today published in a leading international medical journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The JAMA published investigation looked specifically at the new (lower number) diastolic blood pressure threshold set at 80 for the diagnosis of elevated blood pressure, which was a reduction from a prior diastolic blood pressure of 90. The recommendation to lower the diastolic threshold for hypertension from 90 to 80 was based on expert opinion (which is a relatively weak type of evidence), not on results from clinical trials (with the latter considered to be the strongest type of medical evidence). 

A specific group of patients is now eligible to be diagnosed with high blood pressure as a result of this changed threshold.  These patients suffer from Isolated Diastolic Hypertension, characterised by a normal systolic (top) number (i.e., below 130 according to new guidelines) but a higher diastolic (bottom) number (i.e., greater than or equal to 80 according to new guidelines).

The report states that approximately 5% of the US adult population are newly diagnosed with high blood pressure (or hypertension) based on the definition for isolated diastolic hypertension contained in the new guidelines. This translates into approximately 12 million adults in the US being newly diagnosed with this condition.

“Though there are differences between American and European guidelines in how high blood pressure is defined, in general both sets of guidelines recommend that a target blood pressure of 130/80 be achieved for those who are receiving treatment to lower their blood pressure”. 

Professor McEvoy, Medical and Research Director, the NIPC

He continued: “The findings from this NIPC/NUIG study have implications for Irish adults since approximately 600,000 are already on treatment for high blood pressure and as many as 150,000 of these may now be eligible for increases in their treatment doses or number of medications.  Their clinicians could now be aiming to get the diastolic (lower) number to less than 80 despite the patient having a normal systolic (top) blood pressure of below 130”. 

He concluded: “This is a concern, because our team found no adverse health outcomes from a diagnosis of Isolated Diastolic Hypertension when the new guideline criteria are used. The absence of negative health outcomes in this group challenges the need to intensify the blood pressure treatment of these adults with higher diastolic blood pressure. Instead the main focus should be on getting the top number (or systolic blood pressure) under control”.