British Heart Foundation

Coronary Heart Disease

I’ve just submitted my assignment for my module ‘Therapeutic Approaches to Nutrition’ and wanted to share some of my findings.  We were asked to choose a topic ourselves, so I chose one that was close to my heart ❤ – Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Now that’s a subject literally close to my heart, (and the rest of my family), as my father died prematurely of a myocardial infarction at the age of 52 (when I was only 10).

Syl, Val, Pam & Alf

Syl, Val, Pam & Alf

Only now do I understand the biochemical and physiological processes that cause this condition which is one that develops over time, often with no symptoms. Here are some of my findings:

  • Fatty material and cholesterol called plaque builds up in the walls of the coronary arteries.
  • This condition is called atherosclerosis and the fatty material is called atheroma.
  • This narrows or blocks them, limiting or stopping oxygenated blood to the heart.
  • This plaque becomes covered by a fibrous cap which may rupture and cause blood clots which can be fatal (Thomas 2001).
  • Smoking is the major risk factor as it increases permeability of the artery walls contributing to plaque formation (Clancy & McVicar 2009).
  • being overweight, obese, physically inactive, having diabetes and a family history of heart disease, increases your risk.
  • Too much sodium(from eating salt) in the blood impairs the kidneys ability to remove water and extra fluid causes higher blood pressure and if left untreated can severely damage the arteries and kidneys.
  • Eating more fruit and vegetables increases intake of antioxidant vitamins which protect against free radicals.

Here are some practical steps to help reduce the risk of developing CHD.

Steps to reduce saturated fat intake
  • Select lower-fat dairy products
  • Grate cheese instead of slicing it
  • Eat chicken without the skin
  • Select leaner cuts of meat or trim the fat off
  • Use turkey mince instead of beef or lamb mince
  • Compare labels and choose the one with less saturated fat
  • Use sunflower or olive oil instead of butter or lard
  • Eat less pastry, cakes and biscuits
  • Switch from whole milk to semi skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk
  • Eat healthier snacks like fruit
Food Standards Agency (2009)
Cardio-protective Diet Features
  • Eat 2 or more portions of fish weekly, 1 portion should be oily
  • Eat at least 5 portions of a mixture of fruit and vegetables each day
  • Replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat (e.g.rapeseed or olive oil)
  • Replace some dietary fat energy by increasing complex carbohydrate intake
  • Divide fat intake between at least 3 regular daily meals
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake – 3 or less units a day for women & 4 or less for men
  • Limit salt intake.
Reproduced from Daniels L. (2002) Diet and coronary heart disease: advice on a cardioprotective diet. British Journal of Community Nursing. 7, 7.


Me and my Dad X

Me and my Dad X

There are also lots of studies recommending the `Mediterranean diet’ to help prevent CHD – you can find out more via my previous post

More information is available via The British Heart Foundation.

Approximately 46,500 men and just under 34,000 women died of this disease in the UK, in 2010, sad, shocking, preventable!


Love you Alfred Booth X



Valentines day 2014

Happy Valentine’s day!

At Uni today the British Heart Foundation had a stall promoting the importance of heart health which I thought was a really great idea especially on Valentines Day. They had heart shaped balloons, lots of free information with hearts on and free red apples and raspberries to give away. It made for a eye catching display and didn’t look out of place amongst the other stalls selling valentines cards and heart shaped goodies.


The health promotion highlighted 10 steps we can all take to make our heart healthier:

1. Get active – do 150 minute moderate intensity aerobic activity ever week. (30 minutes x 5 days a week).
2. Give up smoking – this is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease.
3. Manage your weight – stick to a well balanced diet, low in fat and high in fruit and vegetables.
4. Ditch the salt – stop using salt at the table and try adding less when cooking. Check labels: 1.5g salt or 0.6g sodium per 100g is high.
5. Get your 5 a day – eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
6. Eat oily fish – omega 3 fats in fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna and salmon help protect against heart disease.
7. Walk off stress – if feeling under pressure go for a walk as it helps reduce tension.
8. Cut saturated fat – choose semi-skimmed over full-fat milk, leaner cuts of meat and steam or grill foods rather than frying.
9. Drink less alcohol – it’s fattening.
10. Read food labels – checking what the ingredients are will help make healthier food choices.

For more information check out:

A healthy lifestyle can prevent fatty material called atheroma building up in the coronary arteries, which in turn can help prevent coronary heart disease. The good news is that incidence rates for heart attacks have decreased for all age groups and both sexes since the 1960’s. The bad news is cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer in the UK.

It’s never too late to change your lifestyle and protect your heart, if you are over 40 you should be invited in by your GP for an NHS health check. If you fit into this age group and you’ve not been invited yet, speak to your GP.

Lots of love x


Old wives tales

Since I started my blog I’ve been writing about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, but I’ve not really gone into specifics about what’s in them that’s so good for us. Apart from the fact that they include fibre that help with digestion they have a range of vitamins that are important for our health and well-being.

Research has shown that young adults, don’t eat enough fruit and veg and at the same time take excellent health for granted. Having two sons, this is a real concern for me but as they get older you can only encourage them, you can’t make them.

On the positive side however, many young adults are playing sport, going to the gym and generally being more active, so if we can get them to combine this with healthier food choices, we are on to a winner.

It is interesting that some ‘old wives tales’ do have an element of truth about them, for example :

  • ‘Eat your carrots they’ll help you see in the dark’ – Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness and carrots contains vitamin A.
  • ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – A recent study reported by the British Heart Foundation concluded that if over 50’s ate an apple a day, it could help prevent or delay around 8,500 deaths from cardiovascular disease. (Statins were however more effective see link below for full article).
  • ‘Feed a cold, starve a fever’ – I can’t find any evidence to substantiate this one. The Oxford Dictionary of proverbs provides some history but the main consensus is that there is no medical reason for diet changes with a cold or fever.



I’ll look into Vitamin A more closely in my next post.