The Star-Herald

Hospital shares tips for heart health

PRESQUE ISLE, MaineWhile Valentine’s Day has come and gone, hearts should still be on people’s minds. Providers from Northern Light AR Gould Hospital suggested ways people can improve or maintain heart health.

Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks. “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,” said John Raymond, physician assistant at Northern Light Heart and Lung.

Visit the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1 (800) 207-1230 or online at

“Studies have shown that people with low fitness levels are at double the risk of developing cardiac disease,” said Amanda Rautenberg, another physician assistant at Northern Light Heart and Lung.

“These studies also show that getting 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise can greatly reduce that risk. For example, that could be 20 minutes a day of brisk walking at the local community center or even 20 minutes a day of gardening.”

Exercise will not only improve cardiac health, but promotes better sleep quality, improved memory, better bone health, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to Rautenberg.  She advised people to start by making small goals and slowly building your way up.

Tom Merrow, clinical dietitian at the hospital, said a healthy diet is also important. A heart-healthy diet incorporates a variety of foods that are generally low in fat and salt, and contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy.

Merrow suggested: Pay attention to portion sizes and drink plenty of water; focus on moderate intake of healthy fats like mono- and polyunsaturated fats in olive oil and vegetable oils; try to stay away from saturated fats and trans fats found in many animal products; eat fruits and vegetables, which can lower cholesterol, slow digestion and contain lots of fiber; stick with lean cuts of meat and look to alternative sources of protein, like black beans, lentils or fish. He advised consumption of no more than 2,300 mg of sodium, or about 1 teaspoon, per day.

For more heart-healthy tips, visit and click on “Medical Minute.”

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