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Memorial Health System Celebrates National Heart Month


Memorial Health System is celebrating American Heart Month throughout the month of February by asking the people in our community to consider their own heart health and take action to lessen their risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack.

Even in the COVID-19 pandemic, no one should delay medical care. More specifically, no one should ever ignore symptoms of a heart attack to avoid a trip to the emergency room.

If you experience any of the following symptoms of a heart attack, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: With or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs of a heart attack include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic happening, I know it’s been difficult for people to focus on heart health. With Zoom meetings and more people working from home, we’re more sedentary. There is also stress eating and there is weight gain,” said Dr. Nicole Florence, medical director and bariatrician at Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center. “We can’t change risk factors for heart disease such as race, family history or gender. But there are risk factors we can change. If you smoke, stop smoking. If you are living a sedentary lifestyle, stand up at regular intervals and get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise.”

A plant-based diet plated with an eye toward moderation can also help reduce risk of heart disease, and simple changes can make a difference. For example, use plant-based oils instead of animal oils and swap out dairy milk for almond milk or soy milk, said Dr. Florence. Speak to your provider for more specific recommendations.

“One or two glasses of red wine a day may lessen your risk for heart disease; however, more than two drinks a day may increase your risk,” said Dr. Florence. “Moderation is important.”

For more information on heart health, visit