#30: The Fresh Heart Project with Dr Zarrin Shaikh

View #30: The Fresh Heart Project with Dr Zarrin Shaikh


Today on the podcast I am speaking to Dr Zarrin Shaikh, a Consultant Cardiologist who specialised in Cardiac Imaging, specifically advanced echocardiography and cardiac MRI, following her PhD
in Sleep at Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton Hospital.

We’ll be talking about her exciting new project called Fresh Heart Project, which stands for food, relaxation, exercise, sleep and happiness and how these lifestyle features can help us overcome blood pressure issues, atherosclerosis and look after our hearts.

We’ll be talking about her personal experience of lifestyle medicine, the cardiologists from America who inspired her journey and a particular focus on Atrial fibrillation something that I personally suffered with and why we may be seeing more of it in clinic.

Some of the points that we talked about that I think are really important to consider are below – and don’t forget to check out the show notes here too for the papers that Dr Zarrin discusses:

  • Looking at the news in the morning and being aware of what impact that has on your stress levels
  • The connection between happiness and cardiovascular disease
  • I’ll link to the studies that Dr Zarrin mentioned in the notes below
  • The nutrition principles that Dr Zarrin stands by – whole grains, quality fats, largely whole and lots of plant based foods
  • How lifestyle is an adjunct to therapy – something that we use alongside the current tools that we have

There is A LOT of evidence based, safe dietary and lifestyle change that we as practitioners can be confidently discussing with our patients and that’s what we hope to chat about today. Listen to the end for a summary of our discussion and how to improve your overall wellbeing,

You’ll find the recipe video that I cooked for Dr Zarrin – Pear and Chocolate Overnight Oats with Fresh Berries – on the show on my youtube channel so you can see how delicious and easy it was to make .. even whilst recording a podcast!

And you can find all of this information and more at www.thedoctorskitchen.com and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for weekly science based recipes and listen to the end of the pod for a summary of our discussion.


‘I’ll never forget a morning I went in to the coronary care unit – it was a Sunday morning – and I looked around at the male bay and I thought – gosh, they’re quite young.  I talked to them, and they didn’t really have many risk factors.  But they key thing that they spoke about was having this period of stress, that then led to this central crushing chest pain that brought them in.  It’s so important now for us as a society to think about how we can tackle this’

Dr Zarrin Shaikh


I’m sure that you found this episode as interesting as I did – and must thank Dr Zarrin for being so open with us and sharing her personal story.

Don’t forget to check out Dr Zarrin’s new Fresh Heart Project – I honestly think this is going to be game changing for the NHS and I can’t wait to be able to send people her way who want to look after their hearts more effectively using lifestyle alongside medicines.


The papers that Dr Zarrin discussed are noted here for reference:

Boden WE et al; COURAGE Trial Research Group. Optimal medical therapy with or without PCI for stable coronary disease. N Engl J Med. 2007 Apr 12;356(15):1503-16. Epub 2007 Mar 26.

Al-Lamee R, et al; ORBITA investigators. Percutaneous coronary intervention in stable angina (ORBITA): a double-blind, randomised controlled trial.  Lancet. 2018 Jan 6;391(10115):31-40.

Fowler JH, Christakis NA. Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study.  BMJ. 2008 Dec 4;337


Check out the YouTube Video here:


Dr Zarrin Shaikh is a Consultant Cardiologist and a passionate advocate of the power of lifestyle medicine to prevent cardiovascular disease. She has spent over 18 years in the NHS after qualifying from the University of Nottingham in 2001.

In 2008, she successfully obtained a grant from the British Heart Foundation that enabled her to study the role of intracardiac shunting of blood in obstructive sleep apnoea. She was subsequently awarded a PhD from Imperial College London in 2012. Her PhD research sparked her interest in the relationship of sleep with cardiac health.

Following on from her PhD, she underwent comprehensive training in all aspects of Cardiology with a focus on cardiac imaging, specifically echocardiography and cardiac MRI.

Over the 18 years of her clinical work she has witnessed her patients getting younger and sicker. She strongly believes that our busy, modern, stressful and sleep-deprived lifestyles are to blame and that through addressing these factors, we can not only prevent but reverse cardiac disease.

She is committed to tackling the root causes of cardiac disease and has developed the Fresh Heart Project which aims to empower people to lead longer, happier and healthier lives.

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