West Dorset ICD Support Group

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Minutes of Meetings

The forty-seventh meeting of the West Dorset ICD Support Group for ICD patients and carers was held at The Dorford Centre, Dorchester on Thursday, 3rd October 2019.


Attendance: 26 members, comprising Committee members, patients and carers, and an Arrhythmia Specialist Nurse.


Apologies were received from: Brian and Symone Hutchings, Chris Freeman.





Group Chair Sharon Bourgucci (SB) opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. She introduced Andrea Podmore, Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse at DCH who was delivering a session on the subject of ‘Healthy Living'. Andrea said she was going to look at three main areas, Diet, Exercise and Stress. Usually each of these subjects was covered in sessions lasting about an hour, so today we would have a summary of each. Those present were asked to contribute and ask questions as we went along.


DIET There were foods we should eat more of in proportion to our total intake, and foods we should have less of. More: Fruit and vegetables, at least five portions a day of different colours and different types. Vegetables contained fibre and vitamins, very little fat and low sugar usually. Pulses (beans, peas etc) were likewise desirable parts of our diets, and counted as one of our ‘five a day'. Fish, two portions a week, one of which should be oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, kippers etc (although watch the salt content). Tinned fish is equally good. Tuna is not an oily fish, but still counts as a portion of fish. Fibre: Porridge, whole meal bread and pasta, some cereals such as Weetabix, (but watch out again for salt in breakfast cereals).

Less: Less salt. No more than 6grams a day, this is a level teaspoon. However, many processed foods contain added salt, so read the label to get an idea of how much salt in total you are having. It is the sodium in salt that is the problem, as it can increase blood pressure and water retention. Watch out for items that say ‘low salt' as these probably substitute potassium for the sodium, and too much potassium can affect heart rhythms, so it's not a good substitute. Less fat: Especially saturated fat, which often was contained in red meats, butter, cream etc. This pushed up the bad cholesterol in our blood. Other types of fats, either poly or mono unsaturated fat were better for us. Rape seed oil was particularly useful, as it is stable at high temperatures so good for frying. Andrea said eggs these days had no health warning attached, so they were fine to eat with no limit on sensible consumption. Avocados contained mono-unsaturated fat and were good for us, as were nuts and seeds, but all fat contained a lot of calories so watch out on that score. Less sugar: Refined sugar serves no purpose in our bodies, so we should cut down on items that contained it. The jury is still out on artificial sweeteners, but they are a better alternative than sugar. Honey is pretty much pure sugar unfortunately, and jam is very high in sugar. Less alcohol: Too much affects heart rhythms and can affect the action of certain medications, so no more than 14 units a week, no more than 2 or 3 units a day, and two days a week with no alcohol at all.


EXCERCISE Exercise helps us to keep fit, helps body movement, exercises the heart, helps coronary arteries, lowers blood pressure, increases good cholesterol, and reduces stress and depression. About 30 minutes exercise on five days a week as a minimum is recommended. However, any amount is better than nothing. Swimming, walking, cycling, dancing all count as exercise, and the level to be aimed for is to know you are doing it (i.e. heart rate raised) but still be able to chat while doing it. Using aids, e.g. a walking stick etc, may prove useful and enable you to do more. The BHF website had some useful guides on exercise, including a DVD called ‘Active Heart Healthy Heart - My Personal Trainer' which can be ordered from the BHF or over this link:



STRESS Stress is not good for you. Stress is a result of the ‘fight or flight' reaction, which prepares our bodies either for imminent conflict or to run away, by producing more adrenaline and cortisone, stress hormones which raise blood pressure, increase pulse rate, tense muscles, and increase the ability of blood to clot. None of these responses is useful in the majority of cases where stress is experienced, especially for those with heart conditions. Research shows that those with heart conditions are more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression due to their change in health status. Stress can make those who suffer from it angry, short tempered, emotional and grumpy, so it also affects those around the primary sufferer, family members and friends for instance. A drop in confidence often accompanies the problem. Negative behaviour can also ensue, for instance torpor, eating unsuitable foods to excess, drinking alcohol, smoking etc. Positive steps that can be taken include exercise, seeking professional help for instance via ‘Steps to Wellbeing' www.steps2wellbeing.co.uk . Both the individual and their close associates (partner/spouse) might need help to cope with the issue. Other useful strategies include deep breathing, relaxation CD's, etc. These techniques need some learning, so get help or access useful guides to the various techniques. Getting together with other people either in a purely social situation or in a support group (such as the WDICDSG) is also beneficial. The British Heart Foundation has a very wide range of useful guides on all of the subjects discussed. https://www.bhf.org.uk .


Andrea was asked about statins, and said these are a very useful drug for lowering cholesterol. They sometimes can be associated with side effects, but these are often in fact not caused by the medicine as such, but were due to other factors such as age. Studies showed 20% of patients in receipt of statins reported some side effects, but only 2% actually had symptoms where the statin could be shown to be the cause.


At the conclusion of the presentation, WDICDSG members thanked Chris with a round of applause, and Sharon presented Andrea with a small gift on behalf of the group.


Christmas Lunch 2019


Alan Denton (AD) told members that this year's WDICDSG Christmas lunch would be held at the Sun Inn Dorchester on Saturday 7th December at 1.00pm. A deposit of £5 per person was required for those wishing to attend. Numbers were limited, so anyone wanting to come should let Alan know and give him their deposit without delay.


Possible Subjects for future meetings


The committee would meet on 5th November and discuss booking dates and speakers for 2020/21. Sharon asked if any members present had suggestions for the programme. A speaker from the D-day museum, Portland was suggested. Sharon asked that if anyone had suggestions to let a member of the committee know before 5th November.


Non-patient members' registration of details


Sharon reminded everyone present that patients and their carers, friend, partners and spouses can become members of the ICD group in their own right, and thereafter receive correspondence such as minutes and agendas etc. Those who wished to do so should complete an application form (AD had blank forms) which as well as recording contact details will give permission for the group secretary to hold their contact details on a secure data base.




A member remarked on the difficulty in finding a parking space in the ‘Top of Town' car park. AD said he would try and suggest alternative parking facilities by the time of the next meeting, although these were limited. The Dorford Centre was a very good venue, and it would be difficult to find an alternative with equally good facilities in a central location. This matter will be discussed at the next committee meeting


Competition results


A ‘name the 60's celebrity' quiz supplied and run by Tony Down resulted in four prizes being awarded.


Further meetings


Further meetings for 2019/20 are as follows and are at 10.30 am in the Dorford Centre:


Thursday, 16th January 2020: the history of the Shire Hall and its development into a Museum and local tourist attraction.


Date of next meeting


The next meeting will be on 16th January 2020: the history of the Shire Hall and its development into a Museum and local tourist attraction. This meeting will incorporate the AGM.