A decade ago, my cholesterol level was found to be raised at 6.1mmol/L but my GP thought my overall risk of heart disease was low, as I was active and otherwise healthy. Years later, I discovered how wrong this was. I became increasingly worried as my cholesterol level was going up despite making the changes to my diet and lifestyle. When my sister had a stroke and no underlying cause was identified, I read about the genetic condition ‘Familial hypercholesterolemia’ (FH) on HEART UK’s website. I applied the diagnostic tools to myself, and I came out as possible FH. Just before the first Covid lockdown in 2020, I saw a different GP and presented my results. My latest cholesterol had come back as 7.8mmol/L with ‘consider FH’?
As a woman being diagnosed and untreated at 60, meant I already had a 50% chance of having cardiovascular disease (CVD). To avoid delay, and whilst waiting for a lipid clinic appointment, I was prescribed statins. My lipid consultant agreed with this as my dad died at age 61 and my paternal grandfather had also died of a heart attack at age 45. Further blood tests discovered that I also have a very high Lipoprotein (a) – another genetic blood fat related condition that further increases your risk of CVD.
I used HEART UK’s website and Helpline several times during the pandemic to learn these conditions. It helped me to prepare for my medical appointments and to manage my condition. The HEART UK Helpline nurse was sensitive and receptive, and I trusted her expertise and knowledge of cholesterol and heart health. She reassured me that I was asking the right questions and I was seeing the right person. I do not have children but discussions about genetic testing have commenced. Meanwhile my adult nephews and nieces have been advised to get a cholesterol test. Thankfully I am now on treatment and my risk of CVD is now significantly reduced. I am so grateful for HEART UK and the help and support they gave me.
HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity, is the only charity in the UK dedicated to saving lives by helping people avoid heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia caused by high cholesterol. It is estimated that close to half of UK adults have raised cholesterol which can lead to heart disease; it can be an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) which runs in families.
The charity receives no Government funding and relies on the generosity of people like you to help support their vital lifesaving work. You can supoort by donating your preloved clothes here: www.icollectclothes.co.uk/donate/heart-uk
For further information about HEART UK see their website www.heartuk.org.uk
HEART UK | 10 MAY 2022
Ingatestone, Essex Remus Horse Sanctuary has literally provided sanctuary for Arnie, Patch, Bobby and Bonnie, by saving them from slaughter! The young goats, all about a year and a half old, were originally born and bred for meat but, thankfully, their owners couldn’t face it when the time came.
Arnie and Patch, the bigger of the four, are Boer goats which were originally bred for the meat industry due to their fast growth rate and good meat quality. However, the breed actually originates from South Africa where they were kept by tribespeople for land management. The smaller pair - Bobby and Bonnie - are both a Boer/Pygmy cross, hence their smaller size. They are all quite naughty and playful which is another trait of the breed. The original owners, from a smallholding in Essex, came to love the animals whilst in their care and couldn’t face sending them to slaughter when the time came. The goats have spent a period of time in isolation before being integrated with Remus’ existing goat herd. Issued by: Alison Page, Marketing Consultant, on behalf of Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary. Telephone: 07963 002065 or email:
Sue Burton, Founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary, explained: We were approached by our Farm Vet to see if we could offer these little goats a home. How could we say no - they’re just delightful little characters and we couldn’t possibly see them go to slaughter! Thankfully they integrated well with our existing herd and immediately made themselves at home! We look forward to introducing them to visitors at our first Open Day in May. To sponsor Arnie, Patch, Bobby or Bonnie or to find out further information about the invaluable work at the Sanctuary, visit www.remussanctuary.org or contact Sue Burton on tel: 01277 356191
REMUS HORSE SANCTUARY | Alison Page | 29 March 2022
Gurcharan, 44, married with a 9-year-old daughter, had a busy job as an assistant store manager of a large supermarket. He had an active lifestyle - walking to work every day, running once a week, eating a good diet, didn’t smoke and was not overweight. How could someone so young and so healthy have heart disease? Yet unbeknown to him he had a huge blockage in his left artery and is lucky to be alive today.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term for all diseases of the heart and circulation and is one of the UK’s leading causes of death and the most common cause of premature death. Around twice as many people are living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK than with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. Raised blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for CVD and increases the chance of someone having a heart attack, stroke or developing vascular dementia.
Gurcharan had been experiencing chest pain on and off for a while but put it down to stress and anxiety, while his doctor didn’t seem too worried, and organized a routine scan. Six weeks later and four days before the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, Gurcharan got a call from his cardiologist as his scan results had come through. “I had a blockage in my left artery, and I was asked to make an urgent appointment to see him the next day, I nearly fainted with the shock”, says Gurcharan. He continues, “News of some cases of Covid had just started, and all the hospital staff were all wearing PPE which was frightening and added to my anxiety. I was worried because both my parents had heart bypass operations for blocked arteries in their 50’s, and my uncle was just 49 and had the same operation. I was immediately prescribed statins and another follow up appointment was made.”
Naturally, Gurcharan was worried, confused and had many unanswered questions about his condition and hereditary CVD which he couldn’t find the answers to. Luckily, doing a Google search, he found HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity’s website which really helped him to understand things. “I rang the HEART UK Helpline and spoke to their specialist cardiac nurse who was so helpful and kind and gave me lots of valuable information, support and confidence. Discovering HEART UK was just brilliant. It gave me answers to the many questions whirling through my head all the time”, concludes Gurcharan.
In late June, during the lockdown, Gurcharan started to get bad palpitations and his cardiologist brought his review appointment forward. He was called in for an angiogram. “Lying there, I saw on a big screen a 99% blockage in my left artery. 15 minutes later, they had put a stent in via my wrist. Afterwards, in recovery, my cardiologist told me that I was a very lucky guy, that I had been hanging on like a piece of string. I could not thank him enough. At 5.30 p.m. I was discharged and went home.
“At my last review, I was given all clear for FH (the inherited form of high cholesterol) and my cholesterol level is now low. I still have no explanation for my premature heart disease but was told that I could still have a heart attack in 10 years’ time. I’ve now gone back to work on a phased return. This experience has made me rethink my life. ''Last year I had a 99% blockage in my left artery. A stent saved my life. I was so scared - having a heart condition and with Covid ever present - made it ten times worse. HEART UK’s information and support has been a lifeline for me – it gave me all the answers to the questions I had been asking. Going through all of this been a real wake up call. I know that I need to spend quality time with my wife and daughter because who knows what the future will bring".
HEART UK | 10 March 2022