Minding the heart of our community

Next week, an honour is being bestowed on Galway city — when the country’s top cardiologists will attend the opening of the Irish Cardiac Society’s 70th annual meeting. The event will mark 70 years of the society and its role in bringing together the best minds in the field of cardiac care.

However, the fact that this landmark event is being held here in the west is also a tribute to the great steps that have been taken to ensure that we benefit from the highest standard of heart and stroke treatment — and for that we thank Croi.

It has been a journey into the unknown in cardiac care for the past 70 years — In 1949, the common cardiac problems were within the comfortable competence of the general physician while the specialist studied wave forms, unravelled the mysteries of electrophysiology, and juggled with the four heart sounds. Heart failure was treated with digitalis and mersalyl, heart attack was managed with morphia and bed rest for up to six weeks, while malignant hypertension was invariably fatal. There were no coronary care units or diagnostic laboratories. It was a planet away from what we now know with technology enabling the best diagnoses and the best outcomes.

At this time Dublin boasted 12 teaching hospitals associated with our three medical hospitals, all offering a comprehensive medical and surgical service, all staffed by general physicians, but each with at least one individual with a special interest in cardiovascular medicine. Some were members of British and European cardiac societies and occasional visitors to US centres. All were familiar with the literature of the day and thus keenly aware of the challenging new developments. At this exciting time the Irish Cardiac Society was conceived and born.

And now it turn 70 — and with the celebration comes an opportunity to honour Croi.

We are so fortunate to have Croi here in the west of Ireland. For decades now, they have saved tens of thousands of lives; they have saved hundreds of thousands of others by educating us all in the right way to eat, to live, to behave. They have shown that from small acorns, a mighty acorn can grow. From the humble beginnings, they have established the finest cardiac facilities here in the west of Ireland, negating the need for long, exhausting, and possibly perilous journeys to the east coast for those who suffered from serious heart conditions. Croi’s mission is to prevent disease, save lives, and promote recovery and wellbeing. And it achieves that goal every year.

And so to next week, Galway will host the Irish Cardiac Society’s 70th birthday, safe in the knowledge that we here in the west have made some of the greatest leaps in cardiac care. How fitting it is that our own Prof Jim Crowley, one of our most esteemed in the field, will wear the chain as the president of the Irish Cardiac Society when it comes to town.

“It is a great privilege to welcome both speakers and attendees to this year’s annual meeting,” said Prof Crowley who has been a big part of that journey along with all the surgeons, nurses, doctors, administrators who have cared for us so well.

And so a big thank you to the team at Croi, to Neil Johnson and all who have worked with him; we have been inspired by his cajoling over the years, his drive to make Croi the success it is.

Neil and Jim and others, as a result of your efforts, of your progress and your achievements, people sleep easier, life is better, care is of the highest level, because we have Croi and all it stands for at the heart of our community. Mile buiochas.

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