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

iASPIRE – Nationwide Study of Irish Heart Attack Survivors Shows Persistent Behaviours Which Drastically Increase Risk of Further Heart Attack

39% of heart attack survivors are obese, 40% still have high blood pressure and 56% do not have their cholesterol controlled up to 24 months after attack

44% of survivors didn’t get flu vaccine last year, despite flu being a trigger for heart attacks

43% of smokers with heart attacks continue to smoke

Today, the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health in Galway, revealed that a new nationwide study of Irish patients who have survived a recent heart attack shows that while some have tried to change their habits, many aren’t succeeding in minimising the risk factors which contributed to the heart attack in the first place.  


  • 43% of those who smoked at the time of the heart attack are still smoking up to 24 months later[1]
  • 39% are obese up to 24 months after
  • 50% have central obesity which is where the fat is concentrated around the waist (Waist circumference >=102 cm for men or >=88 cm for women)
  • Of those who were obese, more than 30% had never been told that they were overweight by a medical professional
  • 31% never or rarely take regular activity long enough to work up a sweat
  • 40% still have raised blood pressure; despite nearly 22% measuring their blood pressure at home
  • 56% didn’t reach the goal of reducing their LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol to below 1.8mmol/L[2]
  • Of those with diabetes, 39% didn’t manage to reach the recommended blood sugar level goal of % HbA1c<7%
  • 44% didn’t get the flu vaccine last year
  • 87% were attending a cardiac prevention or rehabilitation programme for at least half of the sessions  
  • There was wide variability in risk factor control across the 9 sites, suggesting that a standardized national cardiovascular prevention programme would be one solution to the generally poor control of risk factors seen among Irish heart attach survivors.

“This research shows that in certain aspects our health system is making a positive difference to the lives of patients who have recently survived a heart attack.  However, many patients are still struggling with blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, exercise and smoking cessation issues,” said Prof. Bill McEvoy, Professor of Preventive Cardiology, NUI Galway and Medical and Research Director, National Institute for Prevention of Cardiovascular Health at the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre (NIPC).

“Survival of a heart attack is a second chance at life, but only if risk factors are managed.  While we’re seeing better lifestyle habits in some patients, a considerable proportion – if not half – of Irish heart attack survivors are still not making the changes required to prolong their lives. The health system also needs to do more to standardize care for these patients,” concluded Prof. McEvoy.


[1] Overall just under 10% of the group were currently smokers, but the 43% represents patients who continued to smoke after a heart attack.

[2] LDL is sometimes referred to as the ‘bad’ cholesterol which leads to a build-up of cholesterol in the arteries