The Western Trust has secured £500,000 to kickstart a pioneering new programme to help heart attack and stroke patients as well as those deemed at risk.
The new 10-weeks programme is the first of its kind here and will run at Altnagelvin Hospital and two other Trust sites in Omagh and Enniskillen.
The programme is funded by the Department of Heath and will be delivered by a specially trained multi-disciplinary team. Staff will be recruited in the coming months and the programme will launch by the end of the Autumn.
It is believed funding will be recurrent for a further two years at just under £1 million annually.
The MyAction project is based on a model developed by researchers in Imperial College, London, and which is also running in the west of Ireland.
It focuses on healthy lifestyle change such as smoking cessation, healthy diet and weight, and physical activity.
Patients and their partners in the Western Trust area will be eligible if they have had a heart attack, mini stroke or a related conditions. It will also be available to those who are at-risk of heart disease/stroke.
Dr Susan Connolly, Western Trust Consultant Cardiologist, was part of the team who conducted the original research and will be the Trust’s Clinical Lead for the new programme. She said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have secured funding for this innovative programme in recognition of the value of prevention and investing in it.
“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.”
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in Imperial College and current President of World Heart Federation David Wood led the original research on the MyAction programme, said: “If the patient outcomes from the Western Trust are as impressive as those previously published this approach deserves to be rolled out across N. Ireland and beyond.”