Croí brings civil society and industry together to highlight urgent need for national heart strategy

The heart and stroke charity has called for the urgent implementation of a national strategy to tackle cardiovascular health, following cross-community consultation.

18 April 2024: Croí, the heart and stroke charity, has called for the urgent implementation of a new national strategy to tackle cardiovascular health. The call takes centre stage in the charity’s new manifesto, which was launched today.

The manifesto, developed in consultation with patient advocates, leading civil society organisations, professional bodies, and voluntary and community groups, outlines five key policy actions. If implemented, these actions will significantly reduce the occurrence of heart disease and stroke (Cardiovascular Disease) in the population, and reduce the burden it currently places on our healthcare system.

Cardiovascular Disease is the biggest annual cause of death and disability globally, with over 9,000 people in Ireland losing their lives as a result each year. Furthermore, the disease is responsible for 40% of all hospital admissions and 75% of all bed days in hospitals. Despite this, Ireland’s last national cardiovascular health strategy expired in 2019, with no evaluation or renewal.

Croí is calling on politicians to immediately develop a new national strategy on cardiovascular health akin to that in place for Cancer; the allocation of a multi-annual budget from the Department of Health; the appointment of a dedicated policy lead in the Department of health; and the establishment of a Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Implementation Taskforce.

Speaking at the launch event, Croí Chief Executive, Mark O’Donnell, said:
Heart disease and stroke impacts about one in every two families in Ireland, whether through premature death, disability or living with long term chronic ill health – so this is an issue that affects all of us. The old adage that prevention is better than cure is certainly true when it comes to Cardiovascular Disease given that the majority of the burden is preventable”.

What we need to see is a shift from the short-term management of acute events, such as heart attack and stroke, to a long-term strategy which is focused on early detection and risk management. This will reduce the rate of Cardiovascular Disease and the associated burden on our healthcare system”, Mark added.

Neil Johnson, Executive Director at the Global Heart Hub and Croí Special Projects Advisor highlighted the cross-community approach to the development of the manifesto and spoke of the need to ensure a community care-led approach:

Since the previous strategy expired in 2019, we have been operating in a vacuum with no long-term planning for the disease. As a country with an aging population, it is critical that we take a more proactive and holistic approach to Cardiovascular Health so that we can reduce associated illnesses and ensure that everyone in Ireland, regardless of gender, geography or socioeconomic status, has equal access to the necessary healthcare. That’s why our national strategy must take a community care-led approach.”

The Future of Cardiovascular Health in Ireland

- A Manifesto for Change


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