Press Release

Health Strategy Statistics on Heart Health an Unwelcome Surprise, says Minister

Statistics in the new Health Strategy, published this week, had shocked many people with the revelation that the death rate from coronary heart disease in Ireland was almost twice the EU average, the Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, T.D., said today (27 November) at the launch of the first Progress Report on the implementation of the Cardiovascular Health Strategy.

“It may be shocking, but it´s the reality,” said the Minister. “Thousands of Irish people and families live with heart disease every day.”

The Cardiovascular Health Strategy, set out in 1999, set out to

  • reduce the risk factor profile in the general population,
  • detect those at high risk,
  • deal effectively with those who have clinical disease, and
  • ensure the best survival and quality of life outcome for those who recover from an acute attack.

Today saw the publication of the first Progress Report on the implementation of the Cardiovascular Health Strategy. The Minister paid tribute to Dr. John Bowman, Chair of the Heart Health Task Force, and to all the members of the Heart Health Task Force for their time, expertise and dedication to implementing the Strategy.

“In the first two years of the Cardiovascular Health Strategy the Government has committed £41.18m (€52.3m) to implementing the Cardiovascular Health Strategy Report and the improvement of cardiac services,” he said. “£27m (€34.3m) has been allocated to the implementation of the Cardiovascular Health Strategy – £12 million (€15.24m) in 2000 and £15 million (€19.05m) in 2001. £3m (€3.81m) has been set aside under the GMS for introduction of Nicotine Replacement Therapy to GMS patients from April 2001.£11.18m (€14.20m) has gone to the development of cardiac surgery.”

Significant achievements are recorded in the Progress Report on the prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease since 1999.

In addition, in 2002 a national programme on Secondary Prevention in general practice will commence. Discussions are ongoing between health boards, the Irish College of General Practitioners, the Irish Medical Organisation and the Department of Health and Children to finalise an agreed programme.

The Minister indicated that the appointment of 25 consultants cardiologists recommended by the Joint Working Group, chaired by Comhairle na nOspidéal, is a priority for the Cardiovascular Health Strategy.

“Additional capital investment development will be required in certain areas such as cardiac rehabilitation, diagnostic procedures and in primary care settings. I recognise the need for additional capital investment to sustain the implementation of the Strategy and am committed to providing appropriate capital and revenue funding for 2002,” concluded the Minister.