My husband and I hoped to learn more about how dietary intervention could help us to control our blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
I have a form of genetically inherited kidney disease that is linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol, and an increased risk of strokes. I spent a week at Bath’s Royal United hospital last year, having suffered stress-induced heart problems (*Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy). As it wasn’t due to blocked arteries requiring surgical intervention, I wasn’t eligible for a Cardio Rehab programme, even though I had acute heart failure.
As this is a relatively uncommon condition, the GP I saw at my local surgery hadn’t heard of it and wasn’t able to give much practical advice. My weight is fairly good and I’m a non-smoker, but due to the heart problems last September, I do have to take medication and don’t want the dosages to have to be increased.
I find media reports on healthy eating somewhat confusing – ‘eat well’, don’t go low fat, don’t eat bad fat, follow a Mediterranean diet, don’t add sugar, eat 5 / 7 / 10 pieces of fruit and veg a day… There’s so much conflicting information out there, and so much advertising disguised as informed advice (yes, I fell for the ‘low fat is good’ myth) and it’s wonderful to be able to get honest, sensible, reliable advice.
Thanks to the advice from the Cardiologist’s Kitchen team, I gained the confidence to do increasing amounts of exercise and now, one year on, I feel that I have more-or-less recovered. I have started making more of an effort to do some activities that make my heart work harder and leave me slightly breathless – for example, I recently went swimming for the first time in years!
I’ve got my life back! I also feel that I’m taking control of my own heart health through informed food choices. I have started making little tweaks to our food choices such as carb swaps, and looking for nitrate-rich vegetables. I hope that one day there will be a Cardiologist’s Kitchen cook book.
Prevention is surely better than cure. Thank you to the Cardiologist’s Kitchen team – I do hope this initiative continues.
*Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy This condition is also called acute stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome and apical ballooning syndrome.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy was first reported in Japan in 1990. The word ’Takotsubo’ means ‘octopus pot’ in Japanese, as the left ventricle of the heart changes into a similar shape as the pot – developing a narrow neck and a round bottom.
The condition can develop at any age, but typically affects more women than men.
The good news is that often the condition is temporary and reversible.