An Internationally renowned preventative programme that reduces risk of heart attack and stroke is to be rolled out at South West Acute Hospital with almost half a million in funding made available for the project from the Department of Health

The Western Health and Social Care Trust will deliver the programme across its three hospital sites at South West Acute Hospital, Altnagelvin Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex.

The programme is based on the ‘MyAction’ model developed by researchers in Imperial College, London which is also running in the West of Ireland. The initiative’s foundation is healthy lifestyle change including smoking cessation, healthy diet and regular physical activity. It also focuses on the management of other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Patients, and their partners, in the Western Trust area will be eligible for the 10 week programme if they have had a heart attack, or other forms of vascular disease such as mini stroke or peripheral arterial disease. It will also be available to those who are at-risk of heart disease/stroke, to try and prevent these events happening in the first place.

Dr Susan Connolly, Western Trust Consultant Cardiologist, South West Acute Hospital, was part of the Imperial College team who conducted the original research and will be the Trust’s Clinical Lead for the new programme. She said:

“The Department of Health’s blueprint for Transformation, ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026 - Delivering Together’ outlines the need to support people to lead healthy and active lifestyles focusing on prevention, supporting independence and a person centred approach. I am absolutely delighted that we have secured funding for this innovative programme in recognition of the value of prevention and investing in it.”

Dr Connolly added:

“Heart attack and stroke remain a real issue in Northern Ireland principally due to high smoking rates, poor diet, physical inactivity and obesity levels. These factors are also associated with other chronic diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia. However, there is good evidence that healthy lifestyle change even in mid-life, as well as reducing blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce one’s risk of developing them. This funding gives us a real opportunity to help our patients in the Western Trust area to achieve measurably healthier, longer lives.”