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HEART UK’s website information is my bible, and it has helped me to change my life.

Having kidney disease and an underactive thyroid, I was having my yearly blood test which picked up that I had high cholesterol – a total score of 7.9. I was told over the phone by a trainee GP. I was terrified I was heading for a heart attack or stroke, especially as my mum had high cholesterol during her menopause and then much later in life. He advised that I should start taking statins immediately which I did having read up about them first.  It turns out I am one of the rare people who is allergic to a certain statin, so I moved to a different statin which is better. It was during this time that I became determined to take the full approach of also lowering my cholesterol via lifestyle changes as well.

After carefully reading everything on HEART UK’s website, I made all the necessary changes I could to my diet. It was a learning curve about what to eat and how to cook differently, but HEART UK’s recipes and nutrition advice helped so much. I cut out dairy, red meat, and processed food and reduced my sugar intake. I ate salads, pulses, beans, wholemeal products, vegetables, porridge, seeds fruit, chicken, turkey, and foods fortified with plant sterols.

At the same time, I increased my physical activity to improve my heart and lung health. I took up running again a year ago, returned to park run, and gradually built up to do a 5K run which I found difficult, but steadily it became a habit and I progressed to 10K. I also took up boxing which is a full-body workout. My instructor is so inspiring, and I love the social element of the classes. When I hit the punch bag, I imagine it to be my bad cholesterol clogging up my arteries!

I calculated my calories to be in deficit and kept a food diary. After three months I had lost a stone in weight, going from a size 10-12 to a size 8-10, and my cholesterol level had come down to 5.2.

My husband and the whole family got behind me in making this possible. We figured that if I had a stroke, it would impact the whole family, so why not join in and help me? 

I would say that as a busy woman all my life, this is the first time when I have really put myself first and it radically changed my life. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but I have quite surprised myself!

I am so thankful to HEART UK for providing the reliable information I needed and helping me to make the appropriate lifestyle changes to manage my cholesterol.

Susie Watson | 2022

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