A new initiative by local heart charity Croi aims to change the lifestyles of 450 people in the west considered to be most at risk from heart disease, Ireland’s biggest killer.
The free 16 week “Croí MyAction” programme - the first of its kind in Ireland - is committed to reducing the incidence of heart attack, diabetes and stroke among local people. It will provide participants with a potentially lifesaving lifestyle makeover adding years to their lives.
People will be invited to take part in this innovative project by their GP practice, through the Croí ‘Heart Smart’ programme (community high risk screening ) and hospital departments such as cardiology and endocrinology. Their referral is based on risk factors such as family history, raised blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, cholesterol levels, physical activity levels and smoking.
Top television medic, Dr Mark Hamilton, best known for the popular lifestyle TV series How long will you Live, launched the programme, which is the brainchild of preventive cardiologists and other health professionals at the Imperial College, London, with Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon O Cuív TD, earlier this week.
Croi says the project involves the person at risk taking action on diet, smoking, exercise, weight, and lifestyle generally. These issues will be addressed in one-to-one appointments with team members. People will also participate in group exercises and health promotion workshops.
“It is estimated that up to 450 in the west will be involved in the first year. At the end of the 16-week programme, lifestyle issues and risk factors are re-assessed. Participants receive a summary of their progress which is also sent to their GP. Everyone is invited to return one year later for follow-up.”
Welcoming the initiative, Dr Jim Crowley, “Croí MyAction” clinical leader and consultant cardiologist at University Hospital Galway, says the greatest impact on reducing cardiovascular risk comes from people changing their lifestyle and their other modifiable risk factors.
“The MyAction model provides the necessary individual and family supports to make this possible and ultimately bring about reductions in mortality from cardiovascular disease.”
Speaking at the launch, Croí MyAction programme manager Irene Gibson said this family based approach to prevention is focused on achieving real life-changing goals for individuals who complete the programme.
“This model of intervention is outcome oriented - the primary focus is on reaching recommended and achievable targets across risk factors and behaviour change. Evidence to-date shows that this approach to disease prevention works and most importantly is cost effective.”
London based Irish cardiologist Dr Susan Connolly, MyAction UK lead team and UK national co-ordinator for CVD prevention, said cardiovascular disease is the major cause of premature death in Europe and accounts for more than 36 per cent of all deaths in Ireland.
“The key to reversing this toll of death and disease is to target people with multiple risk factors who have yet to develop symptoms of heart disease. Until now, this has been done on an ad hoc basis for individual patients. The Croí MyAction programme is a very exciting opportunity to deliver an innovative model of preventive cardiology care, based on the latest research carried out by the Imperial College London.”
Croí chairman, Raymond Rooney stated for the first time in Ireland family doctors can offer people with significant risk factors for ill-health a community based programme to help them reduce their risk. It will also encourage a healthier lifestyle and ultimately help people live longer.
“This is an exciting development for Croi and we are delighted to be partnering with the HSE West and to work with experts from Imperial College London.”