Cardiovascular patients in the Western Trust are reaping the benefits of an innovative lifestyle cardiology programme.
The unique ‘Our Hearts, Our Minds’ 12 week programme, which is part of the Northern Ireland’s Health Transformation agenda, has been seeing positive changes to the patients who have completed the programme since its launch in April 2019 by Mr Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health.
Designed especially for patients living with cardiovascular disease or at risk of developing same, the programme is based on research carried out in Imperial College, London.
One of the key concepts of the programme is that patients can complete the programme alongside their relative/partner which ultimately makes lifestyle changes much easier, more enjoyable and longer lasting.
Following a detailed assessment, participants are then invited to take part in a weekly exercise and education programme in local leisure centres.
Leading the delivery of the programme, is Dr Susan Connolly, the Western Trust’s Consultant Cardiologist.
Said Dr Connolly: “I am delighted to see such excellent preliminary results, as well as the very positive feedback received from the patients who have already completed the programme.
“We have seen real improvements in physical fitness levels and healthier dietary patterns with accompanying weight loss.
“Blood pressure and cholesterol levels have also reduced substantially in the participants.
“These impressive results are due to the significant changes people have made to their lifestyles through the help and support of the Cardiovascular Nurse Specialists, supported by a skilled multidisciplinary team (including dieticians, physiotherapist/exercise professionals, and psychologists).”
Dr Connolly added: “This is a much needed programme within the Western Trust area, considering outside of Belfast, our Trust has the highest percentage of cardiovascular deaths under the age of 75 years.
“This initiative is all about preventive medicine, which the Trust took considerable feedback on following our community engagement on the Pathfinder project.
“It is this type of initiative that emphasises the importance of bringing healthcare right to the heart of the communities that need it most.”