Ring in the New Year with Heart Healthy Habits


Happy New Year! Start the new year with a plan to stay heart healthy. Not sure where to start? These heart healthy New Year’s resolutions will keep you on the right track all year long.



Drink More Water

A recent National Institute of Health study indicated that a diet with excess sugar can put extra stress on the heart’s tissue, making it easier for damage to occur. Staying hydrated often keeps you from drinking calorie and sugar loaded pop. Also, drinking your calories makes you feel less satisfied than if you ate them.

How to stick to your resolution

  • Carry a refillable water bottle and use it.
  • If you are a regular pop drinker, replace one or two sugary drinks with water each week until you cut almost all high-calorie drinks from your diet.
  • Adding slices of cucumber, strawberry, lemon or orange will change the flavor of your water adding variety.

Read more in our April 2018 blog Reducing Sugar Sugary Drinks


Quit Smoking

Now is the best time to kick the habit of smoking. Smoking increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.

How to stick to your resolution

  • Write down why you want to quit smoking and look at it every time you feel like you want to smoke.
  • Join a support group.
  • Create your own quit plan.

These links offer great tips for finally kicking the habit


Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are all high in things like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Eating more fruit and vegetables will provide you with all the nutrients you need while cutting your calories. Limiting calories helps to control weight, which reduces the likelihood of developing heart disease, hypertension and heart failure.

How to stick to your resolution

  • Keep your kitchen filled with fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits and veggies.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables should be rinsed off as they often contain extra salt and sugar.
  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables each meal.
  • Compare food labels when buying anything except fresh produce. There can be hidden ingredients in some products
  • Experiment with steaming, grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking and microwaving your veggies as these are the healthiest ways to cook them.

Read more on season fruit and product in our Blog Heart Healthy with Seasonal Produce from August 2019.


Manage Your Stress

Stress causes a large amount of physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, headaches, tight muscles and forgetfulness. Many people resort to eating, drinking alcohol, not sleeping and overworking themselves to try and cope. Stress can take a toll on your body as a whole, and on your heart.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Use positive self-talk every day to control stress with phrases like “I can do this” or “I know how to deal with this”.
  • In times of extreme stress, take a moment before you react. Count to 10, take four or five deep breaths, walk away or go for a walk.
  • Do one thing you enjoy every day.


Eat Out Less

While your body needs salt to function, it’s not necessarily the salt you’re eating at home that has become a problem. Restaurants and fast food locations have notoriously high levels of salt in their diet. Excess salt increases the possibility of developing high blood pressure and can lead to heart disease and stroke. It’s impossible to completely avoid eating out, but there are steps you can take to reduce the salt in your diet when you do.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Go to restaurants where your food is cooked to order and specifically ask for less or no salt.
  • Don’t use the salt on the table and limit how much you use high-salt condiments like soy sauce, pickles and olives.


Buy Less Processed Food

Processed foods often contain aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, excess salt and hydrogenated oils. Your body doesn’t need these chemicals. More than 75% of the salt in the average American’s diet come from processed foods.

How to stick to your resolution

  • Buy less boxed and packaged foods and try to cook more often.
  • Read food labels to look for any hidden sugars and salts.
  • Buy more fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Learn more about the Salty Six from the American Heart Association.


Eat More Fiber

Fiber helps digestion and keeps your feeling full longer, which also helps you manage your weight! High-fiber foods can contribute to reducing your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, by lowering bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Replace foods you currently eat with whole grain options. Try whole-grain pasta, brown or wild rice, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain or corn tortillas to start.


Exercise More

It’s recommended that everyone exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, every day. Your heart is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised just like any other muscle in your body.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Start by walking
  • Slowly increase the intensity levels of your workout, but make sure not to overdo yourself.
  • Talk with your doctor about an exercise that would be right for you.
  • Read more tips on moving more in our September Blog 5 Tips to Being Active
  • Our November blog is a great read on why physical activity is so import. Why Physical Activity is Important


Discover Your Family History

Knowing your background can assist you in learning about the risk factors that may run in your family. This way, you are on the look-out for anything that might be an early warning sign.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Set-up time to talk to each family member about their medical history individually and take notes.
  • Visit your doctor to talk about what you found.


Limit Alcohol

Even though many studies have linked the benefits of drinking things like red wine in moderation, the correlation isn’t high enough to start drinking if you haven’t before. Excessive alcohol can increase the amount of fat you have in your blood, which can cause an increase in high blood pressure and the risk of heart failure.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • People tend to drink more at home than they do when they go out. Slowly replace the alcohol in your home with other healthy drink options.
  • If you’re having a party, offer non-alcoholic drinks next to the alcoholic options.
  • Buy smaller glasses. This will limit the amount of alcohol that you can drink at one time.
  • If you think you have a drinking problem and would like help, please reach out to your doctor or call The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit their website to find treatment options. Completely confidential and free 24/7.


Cut Down on Caffeine

Caffeine aggravates stress and raises your blood pressure, which can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Cut back slowly by mixing together caffeine-free and caffeinated coffee or adding more water to your coffee every day.
  • Switch things up by drinking tea in different flavors.
  • Slowly cut down on how much pop you drink a day.


Go to the Dentist

Studies have shown that people who develop periodontal disease are two times more likely to develop heart disease.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly.
  • Schedule regular dental appointments every six months.
  • Watch out for bleeding gums.


Sleep More

Researchers are making a connection between lack of sleep and heart disease. Not getting enough sleep can cause plaque to build up in your arteries by increasing hormone levels in your body.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even if you don’t have anything on your agenda.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Don’t take naps.
  • Spend an hour before bed doing a relaxing activity.


Go to the Doctor

Your doctor is your best source of information when it comes to your health. They can test your levels and talk to you about changes you should be making to your lifestyle to stay heart healthy.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Make an appointment for a routine physical with your health care provider.
  • Get a physical every year.


Lose Weight

Around 70% of Americans are considered overweight or obese according to the Body Mass Index chart. Excess weight increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

How to stick to your resolution.

  • Follow all of the guidelines above. These healthy tips will start you in the right direction.
  • Read more great tips in our blog and check back often for the latest information on staying heart healthy.

Get into gear with these simple New Year’s resolutions. Start your year off right with steps to a heart healthy lifestyle. If you or a loved one has any heart health concerns, turn to Alpine Cardiology. Call 989-448-7002 or visit our website.


During frigid weather seniors are at a higher risk for accidents, injuries and other emergencies, especially if they still drive. Other threats include furnace failures, power outages, isolation, hypothermia and dehydration. If you are a senior, have an elderly family member or close friend that lives independently, here are some important cold weather safety tips to prepare them and their home for winter weather.


Check the furnace

Preventative HVAC maintenance ensures trouble-free operation and peak performance of the furnace. Schedule a furnace inspection with an HVAC professional. Have the contractor clean or replace filters and make any necessary repairs to avoid your furnace breaking down during the cold.

Clean the chimney and flue

If your home as a fireplace or wood/pellet stove, creosote and soot can build up and potentially cause a chimney fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) says that fireplaces need to be cleaned when there is 1/8″ of sooty buildup inside the chimney or flue system. If you don’t want to spend the money on a professional chimney, use a do-it-yourself chimney cleaning system that makes it easy to clean the chimney from INSIDE the home without getting up on a ladder.

Stock up on Fuel

If you heat your house with oil or propane, make sure tanks are full and plan for auto fill so that you don’t risk running out of fuel. If you heat with a wood stove arrange for regular deliveries of seasoned firewood or wood pellets.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s heating system failing or running out of fuel, install a freeze alarm that sends an alert if their heating system fails. There are many types of affordable call out freeze alarms that will automatically call emergency numbers if there is a drastic drop in temperature. Talk to your local HVAC professional for options available in your area.


Have an alternative source of heat

During power outages make sure to have a safe (non-electric) way to stay warm. Wood stoves, kerosene heaters, or efficient wood-burning fireplace can keep you warm until your power is restored. But burning wood or kerosene can produce deadly CO gasses, make sure the are is properly ventilated and install a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke detector.

Have non-electric lighting available

Make sure you have adequate lighting sources during blackouts, including battery-powered flashlights, lanterns and extra batteries. Also use hand crank flashlight that works without batteries as a backup. Prevent falls, tripping and running into objects during a power outage by installing automatic rechargeable nightlights in room and hallways. These will provide instant illumination if the power goes out. Consider installing solar-powered security lights to help navigate outside. They are easy to install because they are wireless and can be positioned just about anywhere there is adequate sunshine to recharge the batteries.

Keep your cell phone charged

During a power outage it is important to stay in touch with the outside world, but keeping a mobile device charged is a problem when there is no electricity. There are emergency cell phone chargers that can power up your cell phone or table during prolonged power outages.


Buy extra food and bottle water

Have at least a week’s supply of non-perishable food and a couple of gallons of drinking water on hand in case you lose power. Get a hand-operated can opener to use during power outages.

Fill prescriptions of critical medicines

Don’t let your medicine run low, have automatic renewals set up to deliver your medicine before you run out. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they offer home delivery or fill your prescriptions through a mail order pharmacy so that you don’t have to worry about going out in bad weather to pick up your medicine.

If you take multiple prescription medications, vitamins or other supplements at various times during the day it can be difficult to manage and risky if you get it wrong. Using weekly or monthly pill box will remind you when to take your doses or you can go with an automated pill dispenser. Many will also have a reminder that alerts you when it is time to take a pill and will automatically dispense it for you.


Prevent cabin fever

Winter can be a time of boredom, isolation and seasonal depression, especially when housebound. Encourage family and friends to stop over or stay in touch by phone. Ake sure you have a good telephone system to make calls easily. There are phones available with easy-to-ready buttons, amplified volume and talking caller ID. These features are helpful for folks with hearing loss, low vision or limited mobility.

Enjoy indoor exercise

Move your body by walking in place or doing laps around the house. Wearing a pedometer or heart rate monitor can encourage movement as your watch your progress.

Prevent dehydration

Winter dehydration is a real risk, especially for the elderly. Remember to eat well-balanced meals that include a lot of vegetable and fruits and drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is another very important cold weather safety tip.


Make sure your car is winterized and equipped with an ice scraper, travel fluid, hat, gloves, cell phone and a travel blanket in case you become stuck or stranded. Remember to pay attention to travel warnings or advisories during winter weather. Stay indoors until everything clear.

Keep your walkways, entrances and driveway shoveled and salted. If you are not able to do it yourself, arrange to have it automatically done when needed. If you are able, help the seniors in your life by keeping their driveways and walkways safe, bringing in their mail and newspapers and offering to drive them to the store or appointment.



Red Cross power outages

National Institute of Health cold weather safety

Otsego County Commission of Aging – Otsego


The Weather Channel

Great Lakes Energy Outage Map

Consumers Energy Outages

DTE Energy Outages

State of Michigan Power Outage



Cold Weather Safety Tips

The teeth-chattering cold is here and it’s nothing to laugh about. Cold weather extremes can be dangerous. Follow these important cold weather safety tips for you, your family, and pets when the mercury and wind chills drop.

  • Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young.couple walking in the cold
  • Dress in layers. Several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Invest in a good brand of thermal underwear and layer beneath a turtleneck, topped with a wool sweater, then a long coat or fleece-lined parka. Try runners’ tights to wear underneath your pants, which will keep you even warmer than thermal underwear.
  • Wear the right gear. Our bodies prioritize keeping our organs warm, which means hands and feet are typically the first to feel the cold. Wear either wool-lined winter gloves or heavy mittens, and sturdy, waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. A hat is essential, preferably one that covers your ears. Cover your face and mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Don’t forget your pets, bring them inside! They need adequate shelter. In sub-zero temperatures, their paws, noses and ears can succumb to frostbite. If you can’t bring them in your home, house them in a garage or basement with plenty of warm bedding.
  • Know frostbite signs: numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration. Did you know that frostbite could occur in less than 30 minutes if proper precautions are not taken? Frostbite is damaging to body tissue, if symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
  • Know hypothermia symptoms: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If body temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
  • To keep pipes from freezing wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of water to run from a faucet if your pipes have frozen in the past. This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe should burst.Winter Car safety cartoon
  • Be safe with heat sources. When using alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions to ensure they are ventilating properly. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and make sure everyone in the household knows how to use it. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Many house fires result from these practices.
  • Seal off unused rooms by stuffing rolled-up towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets. Consider installing inexpensive insulating window film, which you can purchase at any hardware store.
  • Check tire pressure and your car battery. Be sure your car has a winter safety kit that includes a blanket, warm clothes, and gloves in case your car breaks down or becomes stranded.
  • And most importantly, be a good neighbor. Check in with elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure they are safe.

For further information check out and

Life’s Simple 7

Life’s Simple 7 is defined by the American Heart Association as the 7 risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular heath.

  1. Manage Blood Pressure
  2. Control Cholesterol
  3. Reduce Blood Sugar
  4. Get Active
  5. Eat Better
  6. Lose Weight
  7. Stop Smoking

Over the next few months we will share more details on how to help you achieve these 7 lifestyle changes. Watch for information here on our website in our news articles under News & Information and on Facebook with a link to our blog. We are committed to keeping you heart healthy!

Boomers & Seniors Resource Directory 2019

Your resource for Health, Home, Fun & Living a Great Life!!

Senior Resource Directory 2019

Caregivers – You are NOT alone

At Alpine Cardiology we are committed to keeping you healthy and heart smart and our posts have been focused on doing just that. One area we haven’t touched on is the vital role family caregivers provide for our patients and the resources available. Caregivers may be spouses, partners, adult children, parents or other relatives. A Caregiver might do daily check ins on a loved one, provide 24 hour care or somewhere in between. Caregivers are critical partners in the plan of care for a patient with a chronic illness and often forget to care for themselves. 

Caregivers hold it all together, but they also need support and to take care of themselves. As a caregiver, it is normal to feel isolated, at a loss and unsure of yourself sometimes. Staying both physically and mentally healthy can be almost impossible when your focus is taking care of a loved one.

Remember, you are not alone. Others have been down this same path and are willing to share their experiences and insights. The links below can be indispensable as you care for someone who has heart disease or who has experienced a heart attack, heart surgery or stroke. Don’t be afraid to talk to yours or your loved ones doctor about any concerns you may have or challenges you are facing in your caregiver role. 

American Heart Association Support Network

American Heart Association Caregiver Support

US Department of Health & Human Services Resources for Caregivers

National Institutes of Health Caregiver Resources

Otsego County Commission on Aging is a great resource for assistance in your community and hosts a caregiver support group at Otsego Haus in Gaylord. Link below for more information.

Otsego County Commission on Aging Caregiver Support Group

Managing Blood Pressure with a Heart-Healthy Diet

What are the benefits of heart-healthy eating?

Eating a heart-healthy diet is important for managing your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and other health threats.

Aim to eat a diet that’s rich in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils


  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Sodium
  • Red meat (if you do eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available)
  • Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages

Be sure to work with the “chefs” in your household and plan together for any dietary changes that are needed. When cooking at home, try heart-healthy recipes. When dining out, look for healthy options.

Read the labels
By adopting the habit of reading food labels, you can choose foods more wisely. Watch for foods that have saturated fat or trans fat — factors that can raise your cholesterol. Eating foods that are high in sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure. Generally, the higher your salt intake, the higher your blood pressure.

Look for the Heart-Check mark
With so many marketing messages being thrown at you in the grocery store, it can be difficult to know what is truly healthy. To make it easier, the American Heart Association (AHA) developed the Heart-Check mark. When you see this symbol on food packaging, it means that the product meets AHA criteria for saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium for a single serving of the food product for healthy people over age 2.

The DASH eating plan
As its name implies, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan is designed to help you manage blood pressure. Emphasizing healthy food sources, it also limits:

  • Red meat
  • Sodium (salt)
  • Sweets, added sugars and sugar-containing beverages

In addition to being easy to follow, delicious and varied, the DASH eating plan is proven effective. Download a PDF of the complete DASH eating plan.

Craving a cup of joe? What does the research say about coffee and your health?

  Coffee. Cup of joe. Java. No matter what you call it, millions of people worldwide wake up and fuel their day with it. And though consumers might be jittery about the recent court battle in California over cancer warnings, experts say most of the science actually indicates coffee could have health benefits.

“The overall picture is quite clear,” said Dr. Frank Hu, chair of nutrition at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “There is no long-term increased risk of major chronic disease, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease or even cancer.”

The java confusion stems over an eight-year court case. A Los Angeles-based judge’s preliminary decision last month requires cancer warning labels because of concerns about acrylamide, a chemical produced during the roasting process. Acrylamide also is present in some fried or roasted starchy foods, including french fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals and toast. It’s also found in cigarette smoke. The judge gave the coffee industry a few weeks to file appeals and could issue a final ruling late this month.

But there’s little evidence acrylamide levels in food cause cancer in humans. Studies have found no consistent evidence acrylamide exposure in food is associated with cancer risk, according to the National Cancer Institute. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed more than 1,000 human and animal studies and issued a statement in 2016 that “found no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.”

“The California judge’s decision to label coffee as a cancer risk is really inconsistent with the scientific literature,” Hu said. “It’s very misleading and has already caused a huge amount of confusion in the general public. The health outcomes have been remarkably consistent.”

Hu was senior author of a 2015 study in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation that concluded people who regularly drink moderate amounts of coffee daily — fewer than five cups — experienced a lower risk of death from heart and neurological diseases.

About four years ago, the U.S. government gave coffee its OK, too. The Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines for all Americans, published every five years as a go-to source for nutrition advice, said three to five cups a day, which can be up to 400 milligrams a day of caffeine, can be part of a healthy diet. The AHA suggests that people who have an arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm, talk to their health care provider about caffeine intake.

“This guidance on coffee is informed by strong and consistent evidence showing that, in healthy adults, moderate coffee consumption is not associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases (e.g., cancer) or premature death, especially from cardiovascular disease,” the federal guidelines say. “However, individuals who do not consume caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated beverages are not encouraged to incorporate them into their eating pattern.”

More recently, a review of more than 200 studies published last fall in the BMJ concluded three to four cups a day may be “more likely to benefit health than harm.” It found a lower risk of liver disease and some cancers in coffee drinkers, and a lower risk of dying from stroke.

All of that should be good news to the people around the world who drink more than 1.1 billion cups of coffee each day.

But it’s still easy to be confused. A quick search for coffee and health online yields hundreds, even thousands, of results.

Studies abound – some funded by the coffee industry. For example, a European Journal of Nutrition study investigated the effects of coffee and its antioxidant properties and found no effect. Researchers took blood samples of 160 volunteers who drank up to three to five cups of coffee or water each day for eight weeks.

“Up to five cups of coffee per day had no detectable effect, either beneficial or harmful, on human health,” that study concluded. It was funded by Kraft Foods, which makes Maxwell House coffees.

Of course, “no one is talking about coffee as a magic bullet,” Hu said. He and other experts say it’s important to keep track of the bigger picture, with the focus on moderation and dietary patterns.

“You can’t pin anything on any one specific lifestyle behavior, particularly with diet,” said Alice Lichtenstein, a senior scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston and past chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee.

“When we talk about diet, it should really be about the whole package, not single items. Right now, the majority of the evidence suggests there may be a health benefit from drinking coffee and there doesn’t seem to be any disadvantage. Of course, with a caveat that you don’t want to add a lot of cream and sugar, or to use it as an excuse to have a few cookies or a pastry. Then, there is a downside,” said Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy who also was an advisor on the federal dietary guidelines.

“We have a tendency to focus on one or two specific foods or beverages, and that’s when the whole floor falls out from under us.”

How Much Do You Know About Heart Health Answers

Question #1

Answer: D. The latest statistics suggest that nearly 900,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 36% of all deaths. Cancer claims about 550,000 lives; accidents are responsible for 108,694 deaths; and HIV/AIDS kills about 13,000 Americans annually.

Question #2

Answer: E. All the foods listed above contain considerable amounts of sodium. In fact, some cereals have more sodium than potato chips. Even if you don’t add a single dash of salt to food, you could be getting too much sodium. Most of us take in more sodium through convenience foods than by using table salt.

Questions #3

Answer: E. Each is considered “a drink.” Men should only have up to two alcoholic drinks per day; women should stick to one drink.

Question #4

Answer: E. None of the above. There is not sufficient science to justify taking antioxidant (or other types of nutritional) supplements to prevent heart disease.

Question #5

Answer: E. All of the above. As with men, a woman’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience other common symptoms (some of which mimic a bad case of indigestion). Experiencing chest discomfort, particularly with one or more of the other signs listed above, for more than five minutes warrants seeking medical attention.

How Much Do You Know About Heart Health? Take The Quiz!

Quiz yourself on your knowledge of heart health!

1. How many Americans die from heart disease each year?

A) 20,000
B) 75,000
C) 350,000
D) 900,000

2. As salt intake increases, so does your blood pressure. Which food is high in sodium?

A) Potato chips
B) Cereal
C) Cookies
D) Cheese
E) All of the above

3. Studies show that moderate alcohol intake is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Which is considered a “drink”?

A) A 12-ounce bottle of beer
B) A 4-ounce glass of wine
C) 1½-ounce shot of 80-proof vodka
D) 1 ounce of 100-proof alcohol
E) All of the above

4. Which of the following supplements should you take to reduce your risk of heart disease?

A) Selenium
B) Vitamin E
C) Vitamins B6 and B12
D) Vitamin C
E) None of the above

5. Which symptoms of a heart attack are most common to women?

A) Chest pain or discomfort
B) Shortness of breath
C) Nausea/vomiting
D) Back or jaw pain
E) All of the above

Check Your Answers Here!


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