‘Our Hearts, Our Minds’ to help combat heart disease prevalence

Launching Our Hearts Our Minds programme at Templemore Sports Complex, Derry from left to right: Margaret Taggart, Western Trust Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist; Annette Henderson, Western Trust Specialist Physiotherapist and John Paul Glenn, Manager Templemore Sports Complex.
Launching Our Hearts Our Minds programme at Templemore Sports Complex, Derry from left to right: Margaret Taggart, Western Trust Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist; Annette Henderson, Western Trust Specialist Physiotherapist and John Paul Glenn, Manager Templemore Sports Complex.

A new programme to help local people improve their heart heath by altering lifestyles in the company of their partners and relatives, has been launched in Derry.

The ‘Our Hearts, Our Minds’ project was recently launched in both the Templemore Sports Complex and the Foyle Arena and is being rolled out across the Wetsern Trust area.

The 12 weeks programme is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and is designed especially for patients living with cardiovascular disease or at risk for of developing it.

It is based on research carried out in the Imperial College, London and patients are referred onto it by their GP or hospital consultant and are encouraged to attend with their partner/relative who will also actively take part in the programme. The research shows that more significant healthy lifestyle changes are achieved by patients and their partner-relatives when they participate together.

Dr. Susan Connolly, Consultant Cardiologist, Western Trust, was one of the original Imperial College team who developed the research. She said: “NI has one of the highest rates of coronary heart disease in the UK, with an estimated 225,000 living here with heart and circulatory diseases. It is the stark reality that the Western Trust area, outside of Belfast, has the highest percentage of cardiovascular deaths under the age of 75 years old.”

Explaining the programme, Dr. Connolly said: “Prevention is, indeed, better than cure when you consider that making small positive changes to your lifestyle will decrease your chances of developing a heart attack/stroke and potentially add years onto your life.”

The programme will be led by cardiovascular nurse specialists supported by a skilled team including dieticians, physiotherapist/exercise professionals, psychologists and administrative support.After a detailed assessment by the MDT participants and their partners/relatives will be invited to take part in a weekly exercise and education programme in local leisure centres.

Department of Health Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly, said the Our Hearts, Our Minds programme supports people to decrease their chances of developing heart disease, “potentially adding years onto their life.”

Dr. Anne Kilgallen, Chief Executive of the Western Trust, said: “Feedback and results from this programme delivered in places as diverse as London and the West of Ireland have been very positive. It has helped many smokers quit; increased the number of people partaking in physical activity and improved weight loss and blood pressure control amongst its participants.”