Consistent access to healthy food is an essential part of preventing health issues as well as recovering from cardiovascular surgery or a transplant.
Additionally, the American Heart Association found that “food insecurity affects nearly 1 in 2 people with the condition who also are among the most disadvantaged socioeconomic groups.” This means that families who are struggling with food insecurity, disproportionately low-income families and families of color, are much more likely to experience cardiac problems. Likely, this stems from the inability to consistently afford to buy and prepare heart-healthy and nutritious meals that require both the resources of time and money. After cardiac surgery or transplant, access to healthy food, time, and money can all create barriers for our patients and their families to live a healthier life.
While poor nutrition can be detrimental to health, good nutrition can mediate negative outcomes for transplant recipients, and be a protective factor in health. Maintaining a healthy diet can help people avoid complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
At Harboring Hearts, we are helping families both provide food for their families and encouraging heart-healthy eating. That is why 50% of the grants we give out for cardiac surgery and transplant families help to end food insecurity for recovering patients and their families. We know that this is not only an issue of health but also an issue of equity. Harboring Hearts has also put on 2 virtual cooking events this year – one featuring a heart-healthy snack and the other a heart-healthy dinner! We will continue to help bridge the gap between families and food access, to support cardiac surgery and transplant patients in their road to better health.