Cardiovascular High-Risk Prevention Project in General Practice

The Irish Heart Foundation’s High-Risk Prevention Project in General Practice is an exciting new project supported by the HSE.

This innovative project will design, deliver and evaluate a behavioural change intervention (such as supports to help people embrace a heathy lifestyle) for patients in disadvantaged communities at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Studies have shown that people in deprived areas are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease at a younger age and die earlier than those in more affulent areas.

Under the HSE High-Risk Preventive Programme, those at high risk of cardiovascular disease are entitled to one annual GP visit and one practice nurse visit. Such high-risk patients require support to actively manage their risk factors.

This is challenging to achieve through an annual visit, particularly for vulnerable people and people in deprived areas. To prevent these high-risk patients from developing chronic disease a more intensive approach is required.

The Irish Heart Foundation therefore identified that this group of people could benefit from the support of a tailored lifestyle behaviour change programme and developed the high-risk prevention project in general practice to help with this.

People in deprived areas are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease at a younger age and die earlier than those in more affulent areas

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Six practices in disadvantaged areas in urban and rural parts of Leinster came on board to co-design, deliver and evaluate an innovative programme to meet this need. The intervention is run by a Practice Nurse in three practices and by a Health Promotion Professional in three other practices.

It consists of six weekly one to one sessions, where patients identify the lifestyle changes they would like to make and are supported to set goals and overcome barriers to a healthy lifestyle.

Each patient receives follow up phone calls at three, six and nine months to check in and provide additional support.

Patients can also join a closed Irish Heart Foundation Facebook group where they can continue to support each other and receive ongoing tips and ideas from our health promotion team.

The Irish Heart Foundation is working with UCD to evaluate the impact of this pilot project on patients and on the participating practices. The research will also explore the influence of environmental factors on high risk patients’ health behaviours such as the proximity of takeaways and access to physical activity facilities.

For more information on this innovative project please contact: JT Traynor, Health Promotion Professional, High Risk Prevention Project, the Irish Heart Foundation. email: jtreanor@irishheart.ie