2O22 a year in review

By June Shannon Heart News   |   15th Dec 2022

Defending, empowering and caring for Irish hearts since 1966

Throughout 2022 as it has done since 1966, the Irish Heart Foundation continued to fight for Irish hearts across all areas of its work, from advocacy to patient support and health promotion to fundraising.

Our new strategy ‘Defending, Empowering, and Caring for Irish Hearts 2021-2024,’ sets out our vision of a future where no hearts are broken by preventable heart disease and stroke. It also commits the Irish Heart Foundation to work towards the key goals of defending, empowering and caring for Irish hearts.

Defending

Over the past 12 months, the Irish Heart Foundation has worked hard to defend Irish hearts against the many commercial environmental and social threats to heart health such as junk food marketing, tobacco, air pollution and unacceptable gaps in patient care.

Coupled with successfully lobbying for the removal of VAT from life-saving defibrillators, 2022 also saw the Government commit to banning the sale of tobacco products including e-cigarettes to young people under the age of 18, something the Irish Heart Foundation has long called for.

While welcome, the new provisions in the recently announced Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill need to go further. The Irish Heart Foundation believes that more needs to be done to protect young people from the dangers of nicotine addiction including a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes and disposable vapes.

Over the past 12 months, the Irish Heart Foundation has worked hard to defend Irish hearts

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2022 also saw our advocacy team continue its work in defending hearts from the harms of air pollution and climate change.

Climate change has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as, “the single biggest health threat facing humanity”.

Air pollution is responsible for an estimated 1,300 deaths in Ireland every year and the Irish Heart Foundation played a key role in 2022 in highlighting its severe health impacts.

In November 2022 we also launched our new children’s health campaign which highlights the harm of pervasive online junk food marketing to kids. The ‘Stop Targeting Kids’ campaign features a hard-hitting video and calls for a blanket ban on junk food marketing online, an extension of the broadcast watershed from 6 pm to 9 pm and a ban on junk food advertising on State-owned transport and buildings. As part of the campaign, we are also demanding that the Government fulfil its 2020 commitment to introduce a Public Health (Obesity) Act.

The statistics are frightening, one in 20 of this generation’s children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity and we are seeing cases of children as young as six presenting to doctors with high blood pressure. For the sake of children’s health, the government must do more and the Irish Heart Foundation will continue with this and its other important advocacy work in 2023 and beyond.

Women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer

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Empowering

Coupled with defending we also worked to empower Irish hearts in 2022 through the work of our health promotion team.

One such project was our High-Risk Prevention Project (HRPP) in General Practice which was shown to be beneficial to people at high risk of heart disease and stroke.

Launched in January 2021 and supported by the HSE, the project works with patients from disadvantaged areas at high risk of heart disease and stroke and helps them to make positive changes to their lifestyles and improve their health and wellbeing.

Despite taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme resulted in measurable positive change and feedback from the majority of participants.

Participants reported that the programme improved their knowledge of how to better manage their health issues such as blood pressure, weight and cholesterol. They also highlighted the benefit of the intervention being carried out at their local GP practice.

In September we launched our highly successful Her Heart Matters campaign which shone a much-needed light on the issue of menopause and heart health. The campaign, which featured a number of menopause experts and real-life women’s stories, highlighted the increased risk of heart disease and stroke in menopause.

The main message of Her Heart Matters was that 1 in 4 women in Ireland die from heart disease and stroke and women were six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, however, most women were not aware of this.

The aim of the campaign was to urge every woman to make time for their heart health and to remind them that 80  per cent of early heart disease and stroke can be prevented through small, sustainable lifestyle changes.

As part of our ‘Her Heart Matters’ campaign, we ran a hugely popular webinar and also developed a free online self-assessment tool so that women can identify what changes they would like to make in their lives and a well-being journal to support them along the way.

We are there for every heart in Ireland, but we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful staff, volunteers and very generous supporters.

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Caring

Throughout 2022 we also continued to care for Irish hearts through our comprehensive patient support services for people living with heart disease, stroke and their carers.

One in six people will have a stroke at some time in their life. Most are over 65, but stroke can strike at any age. Even young people and children can be affected.

To support people living with the aftermath of a stroke, the Irish Heart Foundation developed its Stroke Connect Service – a telephone support service for newly-discharged stroke patients and all stroke survivors who need practical and emotional support.

The Stroke Connect Service is a programme of weekly phone calls that give support and encouragement to stroke survivors to help them make the best recovery possible and helps make sure they have the information they need to live well after stroke.

The programme runs for eight weeks, but there is an option to extend it if needed. In 2023 we aim to extend this service and add a new Heart Connect Service for people living with heart failure.

Thank You

As you can see from the snapshot above, 2022 was another busy year for the Irish Heart Foundation. Over the past 12 months, we have defended, empowered and cared for Irish hearts. We look forward to doing it all over again and more in 2023.

We are there for every heart in Ireland, but we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful staff, volunteers and very generous supporters.

The vast majority of our funding comes from supporters. It is because of these public donations that we are able to save and improve lives. It allows us to support people living with heart disease and stroke, advocate for their needs, promote good heart health nationwide and train people to save lives.

So, from all of us here, a huge thank you.

We have a busy year planned for 2023, so keep an eye on our social media channels and website for updates. We understand that this is a tough year for many, but if you would like to support our ongoing work, please give what you can here. Every euro we receive goes towards our life-saving work.

Wishing you all a happy and heart-healthy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

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