A recent awareness campaign aimed at alerting farmers in Mayo to the signs and symptoms of a heart attack has won a top award at this year’s Irish Medical Times Healthcare Awards. This innovative project stemmed from a collaboration between local heart and stroke charity Croí and the HSE in Mayo as part of the on-going work of the Mayo Action on Heart Disease and Stroke Programme. The winning initiative was jointly led by Croí nurse Ailish Houlihan and Ann Marie Brown, cardiac rehab co-ordinator at Mayo General Hospital.
For many years Croí and the HSE in Mayo have been working together in raising awareness of heart disease and stroke in local communities, but it is their pioneering work over the past year in educating farmers on the signs and symptoms of heart attack that has gained a top national award.
Heart attack still remains a leading cause of death in Ireland and survival is highly dependent on rapid access to treatment. However delays in recognising symptoms and in taking appropriate emergency action remain unacceptably long in Ireland, especially among rural and farming communities. Reducing the time to treatment for people suffering a heart attack is crucial in saving lives. Recent Irish research has shown that patients' own decision time is the single biggest cause of pre-hospital delay and a key part of this delay is failure to recognise signs and symptoms. Work undertaken by Croí with farmers in the west of Ireland revealed a low level of knowledge of the key symptoms of heart attack.
In the absence of a current public campaign on heart attack in Ireland, Croí in collaboration with Mayo General Hospital and Mayo PCCC designed and implemented an awareness and education campaign for farmers with the support of the livestock marts, Teagasc, and the Irish Farmers’ Association networks. The novel approach taken during this initiative, which saw the roll-out of the campaign through the marts, proved effective in improving understanding and awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and in knowing when and how to seek emergency medical assistance.
Welcoming the award, Croí CEO Neil Johnson said: “This award is great recognition of what can be achieved through collaboration. The Mayo Action on Heart Disease and Stroke Programme has been working very successfully over many years with the aim of saving lives from heart disease and stroke in Mayo. The aim of this heart attack initiative is to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart attack so that people seek medical assistance as early as possible, thereby reducing damage to the heart muscle or even saving a life.”