Salem, Mass. – North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) is getting creative when it comes to keeping people on the North Shore ‘Heart Healthy.’ NSMC has launched a new heart health awareness campaign featuring custom hospital bracelets bearing colorful designs and messages. The bracelets are being distributed to area homes and through local stores and businesses.
“The goal is to promote good heart health,” said Laura Fleming, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at North Shore Medical Center. “This awareness campaign is a light-hearted way for people to tell their friends, neighbors, moms and dads, or loved ones, ‘Hey, I care about you, make sure you’re taking care of your heart.’”
The campaign also includes a dedicated website (www.nsmcheart.org) where visitors can take a free heart risk assessment and learn more about improving their health. They can learn about North Shore patients whose lives have been saved by the NSMC Heart Center.
A Heart Healthy You
The advice for becoming more "heart healthy" may sound familiar: Lose weight, quit smoking, watch your diet and exercise regularly. Yet heart disease remains America's number one killer, taking more lives than accidents and cancer put together, according to the American Heart Association.
At the NSMC Heart Center, the emphasis is on education. The more patients know about their own heart health, the less likely they are to develop heart disease.
A Heart Healthy Diet
“Your diet is one of the most controllable risk factors for preventing heart disease,” said David Roberts, M.D., chief of cardiology at North Shore Medical Center. “Starting a heart healthy diet begins with knowing which foods to limit and which foods to increase.”
Foods to limit for heart health include certain fats, cholesterol and sodium. Saturated fat and trans fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising cholesterol levels in your blood. Major sources of saturated fat include beef, butter, cheese, milk, and coconut and palm oils, while trans fat is found in some deep-fried foods, bakery products, packaged foods, margarines and crackers.
Heart healthy eating isn't just about eliminating or limiting foods that are not healthy. A heart healthy diet also includes increasing foods that are good for your heart. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease your risk of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), decrease triglycerides (a type of fat in the body), and lower blood pressure.
Fish (mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon) is a good and natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. Consider incorporating two fish meals per week into your heart healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in smaller amounts in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil and canola oil, and are also found in over-the-counter supplements.
In addition to increasing omega-3 fatty acids, include 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products and 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to help prevent heart disease.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your risk for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, whereas a 10 percent decrease in weight can improve these conditions.
Exercise is also part of a heart healthy lifestyle. If approved by your primary care physician, aim for 20-30 minutes of aerobic physical activity 3-5 days per week. (These recommendations are suggested for healthy adults aged 18-65 years.)
By making small changes to your diet, engaging in physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight, you are well on your way to a heart healthy lifestyle.
About the NSMC Heart Center
The NSMC Heart Center is the only comprehensive heart center on the North Shore with fully integrated cardiac services including angioplasty (percutaneous coronary intervention) and advanced cardiac surgery. NSMC’s Heart Center is a collaborative effort between NSMC and Massachusetts General Hospital and our team of cardiologists is credentialed at both Massachusetts General Hospital and NSMC. In addition to complex heart surgery and heart procedures, we offer a full range of cardiac tests that are performed at NSMC Salem Hospital, NSMC Union Hospital and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care.