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Heading off health risks before they can strike

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Date Published: {J}

If the Croí ‘MyAction’ programme were a drug it would be an international best seller.

The Galway programme – co-funded by the charity Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation, and the HSE West’s Primary Community and Continuing Care unit – is unique in Ireland.

It targets people who are at risk of cardiovascular disease in order to prevent heart disease and stroke.

The results after two years and 500 participants are quite remarkable – and those who partake don’t even have to dispense with their dignity by appearing in lycra on national television to do it.

On average there was a 50% cut in the numbers who smoke, a loss of nearly nine pounds in weight, a 4.5cm reduction in waist circumference, significant reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing the risk of stroke by 35%.

Anxiety and depression levels were halved, while 61% were now achieving the recommended physical activity levels.

It achieves these results by using a multi-disciplinary approach across all the main at-risk groups, explains programme manager Irene Gibson.

“It’s the first time in Ireland we’ve looked at integrating care for all conditions – heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and diabetes. What has happed in the past is that care was focused on people who have already had a cardiac event and the resources go into a rehabilitation programme. We’re intervening with an intensive lifestyle modification programme at the right time for individuals most at risk,” she explains.

Participants must get a referral from their GP for the programme. Across Galway 80% of GPs are now using the service. Croí also encourages people who may not even be aware they are in the danger zone to seek a GP referral on screening days in marts, shopping centres, work places and even pubs.

People who get one of the 350 places available a year on the course which lasts for up to four months may have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, they may be overweight, be a smoker, have a family history of heart or stroke problems and do little or no exercise. The vast majority are over 50.

Those who have so far participated have a significantly higher risk profile than the general populace, with 63% classified as obese; 91% taking little or no physical exercise; 50% with high blood pressure; 68% with high cholesterol; 35% suffering from anxiety and 23% classified as depressed.

The first thing a participant undergoes is a three-hour assessment involving a nurse, who measures blood pressure, cholesterol and other health factors, a dietician who takes a detailed look at diet as well as measurements such as weight, height and waist circumference and finally a physiotherapist who look sat exercise levels and any possible injuries or health issues.

Ms Gibson says the next step is to set small goals in a number of key areas which are realistic to kick off a healthier lifestyle.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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