February is Heart Health Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable.  Making heart-healthy choices, having regular check-ups, knowing the risk factors and working with your physician to manage your health are all vital aspects to saving lives.

Below are some tips from TAMC providers on ways to keep your heart healthy.


Smoking is the leading cause of heart attack. If you smoke, it's time to quit. Whether it's cold turkey, the nicotine patch, or other medications, set a date and stick with it. A great resource is the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230 or online at www.thequitlink.com.

Blood Pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for stroke. 'Essential' high blood pressure, or high blood pressure with no known cause, can't be cured but it can be managed. It's important to maintain a diet that is low in sodium, get plenty of exercise, and try to lose weight.


High cholesterol levels are a major risk for both heart attack and stroke. LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, is obtained from foods high in saturated fat like red meats, deep fried foods, and dairy products like butter and cheese. If you have
high cholesterol, avoid those foods. If it continues
to be high despite your diet changes, see a doctor.                    
Benefits of Physical Activity early in life
Physical activity not only helps control or prevent diabetes, blood pressure, and other conditions, it also aids in cognitive performance.

Kids who participate in sports and remain active tend to have fewer issues with depression and anxiety. It can also aid them socially as it helps to build a friendship network that may protect them from bullying. Sports teach them how to win, how to lose and how to persevere.

Parents are a powerful influence on their kid’s physical activity and diet. It's not about targeting a number or hitting a certain weight. It's about developing healthy habits that will last you a lifetime.


The Importance of a Heart Healthy Diet

A heart healthy diet incorporates a variety of foods that are generally low in fat, low in salt, and contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy.

It's also important to pay attention to portion sizes and drink plenty of water.

Focus on moderate intake of health fats like mono and poly unsaturated fats in olive oil and vegetable oils. Try to stay away from saturated fats and trans fats that we find in many animal products.

Fruits and vegetables can lower cholesterol, slow our digestion, improve blood glucose levels, and they contain lots of fiber.
For protein, stick with lean cuts of meat and maybe look to alternive sources like black beans, lentils or fish.         

Consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. That's about one teaspoonful.

For more tips visit the American Heart Association website.

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