Monday 23 February 2015
Dr Aseem Malhotra: Mediterranean diet is heart healthy – if it’s high-fat
The Mediterranean diet is good for hearts as long as it is also high in fat, says Dr Aseem Malhotra, a British interventional cardiologist. He is science director of Action on Sugar, a group of 23 specialists working to reduce sugar consumption in that country, and is a speaker at the low-carb, high-fat Summit in Cape Town. Here he talks to me about why he decided to attend, and his views on heart disease and statins. – MS
Transcript of interview:
I’m sorry to hear that.
Dr Malhotra, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me.
It’s an absolute pleasure, Marika.
Thank you. You once wanted to be a professional cricketer. Cricketing’s loss is cardiology’s gain. Why didn’t you become a cricketer?
I’ve always had a passion for sport. I played at a good level in cricket, in my school days. I used to open the batting for my grammar school, which produces many good cricketers, including Mike Laverton, the former English captain. I had to make a decision in my late teens to pursue a career in medicine.
Did your parents guide you in that one?
Well, my dad was actually very keen that I do cricket. He’s a doctor but he was a very big cricket fan himself.
What kind of doctor is he?
He’s a general practitioner, but he played a lot of cricket with some of the great cricketers in his university days – cricketers like Kapil Dev, etcetera – in India. Cricket runs in our blood and I made a decision that (probably the right one) that I was also very attracted to becoming a cardiologist. For a long time, I wanted to do cardiology and I think I thought “well, I don’t think I’m going to be the next Tendulkar”, and therefore, I’d probably be better off doing cardiology.
What made you decide to specialise in cardiology?
Medicine obviously runs in the family and that had an influence on me (in a positive way) although I had decided I didn’t want to do general practice. Both my parents were GP’s and growing up in a family of two GP’S, I felt like I was almost already a GP because you all about the work. I was always interested the human body and science, but I had very up close and personal experiences of people with their hearts.
When I was young, my grandfather died of a very rare heart condition, called amyloidosis. He was a very fit man. It was tragic, he died in his early sixties, and he could have lived much longer. That isn’t something that runs in families but it was heartbreaking. I had a brother, who had a small hole in his heart, but he had Down’s syndrome and at the age of 13, he picked up a regular virus. At the time, we didn’t know what happened, but he basically, went into crashing heart failure within the space of a week of being well, and it’s likely that he had something called myocarditis, which can happen. I’ve treated patients with this. He passed away.
Thank you. It’s a long time ago, but I think those things definitely influenced in my thinking about cardiology. When I went to medical school, I was fascinated with the heart. We know that heart disease is the biggest killer in the Western world.
Read more or listen to the full interview here: http://www.biznews.com/