Heart transplant survivor creates low-sodium cookbook

Motivated by his own medical nightmare, a Maple Grove man is inspired to help others live a healthier life.

Chris Lower is a heart transplant survivor. He celebrated his 50th birthday recently with the publication of his very first low-sodium cookbook.

"I've always been the person who said, ‘What's next? There's a way to do it. Let's do it,’” said Lower.

From his hospital room at the University of Minnesota medical center, Lower is committed to saving lives.

"I lost about 100 pounds to get on the heart list,” he said.

Years ago, he started by saving his own.

"It was something I was not prepared for and at that time not ready,” said Lower. “They tell you, you've got five years, so make your plans accordingly."

Lower, admittedly unhealthy and overweight, was suffering from heart failure and needed a transplant. He focused on exercise and diet, specifically on reducing his salt intake. It was a tough pill to swallow for a true foodie.

"It's a huge killer,” he said.

The father of three spent hours and hours online, researching everything to know about salt and its dangerous impact on the American diet, in particular high blood pressure and heart disease.

"A lot of us don't even know how to read a label on a product when shopping,” he said.

His dummy guide to salt and his favorite low-sodium recipes would all end up on his blog at hackingsalt.com.

Then this month, a California publisher turned Lower’s passion and research into The Easy Low-Sodium Diet Plan and Cookbook that's now on sale.

"If I can keep anybody out of the hospital bed that's what I'd love to do,” he said. “That's more important than being a #1 best-selling author. I don't care about that."

As for why Lower is back in a hospital room, a vicious medical condition has turned his own body against his current heart. He is on constant IV medication and will need another transplant if he is going to see his children grow up.

Either my heart will wear out or it will max out on dosage, then I would pass,” said Lower. “That's the unfortunate reality. I need a heart."

Lower has been at the U of M for the last six months. He is currently in the top tier of the heart transplant list with the family literally awaiting the call any day now.