That assessment comes from Ian Graham, MD, of Dublin’s Trinity College, who chairs the Irish Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Prevention Council and is co-chair of the program committee at EuroPRevent 2012, which opened with “Ireland Day,” a series of presentations focusing on efforts to tame cardiovascular disease among the Irish.
To illustrate his point, he introduced Robbie Walsh, a 39-year-old Dublin postman who had an MI at age 37. Walsh, a ruddy-faced man who seemed pleased to share his story with a room full of journalists, said he regularly walked 5 to 6 hours a day delivering mail so he had always considered himself healthy. But Walsh also smoked about 25 cigarettes a day, “more on the weekends or if I went out for drink,” regularly ate red meat, and limited vegetables to “about once or twice a week.” And both his father and his brother had heart disease.
Following coronary artery bypass graft surgery for single vessel disease, Walsh entered a standard 12-week long cardio-rehab program that taught him the value of fruits, vegetables, and a life without cigarettes. Perhaps most importantly, Walsh said, is that he knows that preventing a second heart attack is a lifelong job for him.
Graham, who pointed to Walsh as a success story, said expanding prevention efforts in Ireland, as well as the whole of the European Union and North America, will depend largely upon the buy-in from the primary care community, since all of primary prevention and much of secondary prevention is a “GP job.”