'The Seed'

Dr Ali Khavandi says;cardiokit-collage

It has reached the stage to do something. A tsunami of cardiovascular disease has spread across the globe — a true pandemic without borders. Not only is it among the leading causes of death and morbidity in the Western world but our dietary and lifestyle driven disease has now infected the developing world. Cardiovascular diseases kill 1 in 3 of us in the UK and US and are now responsible for more deaths in Africa than TB, Malaria and HIV combined.

Despite this cardiovascular diseases are predictable through ‘risk factors’ and 80% are preventable through dietary and lifestyle modification. Its like something out of the film Minority Report — we have ‘pre-cognition’ and can predict heart attacks and strokes. So where are we going wrong and why aren’t we preventing more events?

The public and our patients are confused. There is too much information and too many opinions from unqualified sources. Our patients and the public are more likely to take dietary advice from an exciting ‘celebrity’ nutritionist, glossy magazine health journalist, fad diet article or clever food industry marketing than their boring doctor or public health campaign. This is our fault — despite having the expertise we have been distracted by the more exciting research and more exciting treatments such as surgical procedures, interventional devices and designer drugs. There is no doubt these things have revolutionised healthcare and made cardiovascular disease the most profitable health target for the pharmaceutical industry in history — the biggest blockbuster drug of all time is Atorvastatin for lowering cholesterol. As a result more people are surviving heart attacks and living longer.

As Cardiologists and cardiovascular researchers we want to highlight the facts about diet, lifestyle and how they are linked to cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular diseases. We want to objectively debunk the myths and highlight the truths. More importantly we want to help people prevent or reverse pre-illnesses (such as high blood pressure and cholesterol) through scientific, evidence-based dietary and lifestyle interventions to avoid becoming our long term patients. We are by no means anti-medication and are proud of our modern treatments but the reality is that most people can avoid chronic illnesses and treatments through more simple everyday avenues.

In creating this initiative we have established some rules and are already in danger of breaking one of them . . . keep the information short and accessible (because people will get bored and stop reading). We will expand on many of these concepts and terms in due course and hope to link you to the work of respected international colleagues. There’s a whole lot more to talk about and hopefully this a seed that can grow into an accurate health revolution which is driven by the right people, with the right motivations and appropriate expertise.

Mary Anne Fifield says;

Looking after our hearts should be simple to do. Evidently it is not. Relax, we care about heart health and can help.

I work with Dr Ali Khavandi on this unique innovation to reduce high blood pressure through healthier food choices.  I first met Ali, our Project Lead, when I was Cath Lab Sister at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.  The Cath Labs are where patients come to have their coronary artery disease diagnosed and treated.

Once our patients were out of danger and in the recovery area, we would send for a packed lunch from the hospital kitchens.  To be giving patients packets of crisps never sat well with me, the contradiction of health promotion advice given versus actual food given was nonsensical and confusing for patients.  Who knew then that the low fat yoghurt, the so-called ‘healthy option’, contained five teaspoons of sugar? This is a nationwide issue, a scene replicated in most hospital settings.

The inconsistency is even more widespread, with so many foods promoted for our wellbeing being neutral or even harmful.  We now rely on celebrity endorsements, journalists and big retailers for our dietary guidance.  Unsurprisingly, this isn’t working.

I moved from the Cath Labs to set up Cardiology Research at RUH three years ago. I have seen first-hand how gathering evidenced data can improve real life patient care.  The evidence-base for the foods we currently eat is questionable and I am energised by the prospect of rolling out an innovation which can positively impact on everyone’s cardiovascular health.

As a passionate cardiology nurse I’m here to share simple and well-researched information, nutritious and delicious recipes and to help motivate you (and me too) to choose foods which actively protect our hearts.

We at the Cardiologist’s Kitchen are committed to help simplify your food choices and to empower you to take back control of what you eat.  Our hope is that you will visit the Cardiologist’s Kitchen, take from it what you need to look after your heart and make your own kitchen somewhere full of fresh produce, gorgeous recipe shares and lovely appetising food.

We appreciate how busy life is and though cooking from scratch is the ideal, it requires time we often don’t have.  On our website we will direct you to CardioKit meals in local restaurants and CardioKit prepared meals, all specifically designed with our heart health and taste buds in mind.

I am really excited to project manage the Cardiologist’s Kitchen Innovation, to show you which ingredients are needed to lower high blood pressure and to be helping each of us to look after our hearts a little better.

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