Valentine’s Day: Protecting Your Heart 

Debi MCcann, a heart specialist from Eastern Maine Medical Center on our morning show with important information when it comes to protecting your heart.

Even though heart disease and heart attacks are common, they are preventable. You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Here is some practical advice from Eastern Maine on how to protect yourself and the lives of those you love.

Diabetes – Diabetes is a condition in which there is an excessive amount of blood glucose (sugar) in the body. People with diabetes have three to five times greater risk of developing heart disease, as uncontrolled blood sugars can damage blood vessel walls and create a build-up of plaque in the arteries. People with diabetes should follow the correct diet under a doctor’s supervision. Regular exercise can help control your blood sugar and weight. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan and follow the doctor’s instructions on when to check your blood sugar.

Diet – “We are what we eat,” concluded German philosopher Ludwig Feurbach in 1850 – and it’s still true today. You don’t have to be perfect, just do the best you can. And don’t give up on good eating habits because it seems too hard. The most important thing to remember is to cut down on foods that contain a lot of saturated fat. In general, these are foods that are solid at room temperature or have fats that solidify at room temperature (like sausages, hamburgers, butter and cream). Saturated fats increase the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood – and increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Exercise – Everyone can benefit from exercise – whatever your age and no matter how unfit you feel at the moment. Regular exercise is essential for a healthy heart and a great way to keep in shape. Talk with your doctor about a fitness plan that’s right for you. And if you’re not keen on playing a sport or joining a gym, there are plenty of other ways to get fit. Exercise does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial. Try taking a brisk walk, going for a bicycle ride, spinning your sweetie around the dance floor, or using the stairs instead of the elevator at work. The American Heart Association recommends accumulating up to 30 minutes of activity per day, most days of the week. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes of activity all at once. Try breaking it up into three, ten-minute periods. Check out EMMC’s Move & Improve Program; it’s a great way to make physical activity a part of your life.

If you need help finding a primary care doctor, you can call Eastern Maine Healthcare’s physician referral service at 1-800-439-2111