News & Events

Tips for Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Date: 02/21/2019

John Raymond, PA-C from Northern Light Heart & Lung, speaks to a group of seniors about Heart Healthy Tips and the hospital’s new Congestive Heart Failure Clinic during the February Healthy Aging Luncheon.  Healthy Aging is a lunch and learn program offered monthly during most of the year by Northern Light AR Gould Hospital. 


Presque Isle, Maine (February 21, 2019) — While Valentine’s Day has come and gone, hearts should still be on people’s minds. February is American Heart Month, a time for all of us to be thinking about ways to improve or maintain our heart hearth. Providers from Northern Light AR Gould Hospital have some suggestions.
Quit Smoking
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,” urges John Raymond, physician assistant at Northern Light Heart and Lung.
A great resource is the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230 or online at
Get Exercise
“Studies have shown that people with low fitness levels are at double the risk of developing cardiac disease,” says 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.”
Not only will you improve your cardiac health, but you will enjoy better sleep quality, improved memory, better bone health, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to Rautenberg.  She advises people to start by making small goals and slowly building your way up.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
Tom Merrow, clinical dietitian at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital notes that a heart-healthy diet is also important. 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.
Merrow provides these tips for a heart healthy diet:
  • 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, and try to stay away from saturated fats and trans fats that we find 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.
  • Consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. That's about one teaspoonful.
For more heart healthy tips visit and click on “Medical Minute.” February is a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.