Love Your Heart - and Give Your Family the Best Gift Ever!

By Dr. Andrea Bruce, DO, a family medicine physician at Family Medical Associates, a specialty clinic of Covington County Hospital. Dr. Bruce has served patients in Collins, MS, since 2001.

Celebrating American Heart Month in February is a good way to start adopting better, healthier behaviors. It's also important to look ahead and recognize the changes you make shouldn't be limited to one month a year. Rather, think of them as the start to giving yourself and your loved ones a lasting gift - better heart health - for a lifetime!

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. In fact, someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise put you at higher risk for heart disease and heart attack. Making a few lifestyle changes can go a long way in improving heart health so you and your loved ones can enjoy a longer, stronger lifetime together.

5 Tips for Better Heart Health

1. Eat Heart Smart - Fill up on 4 to 5 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. Favor lean proteins like chicken and fish, and limit red meat. Choose whole grains. Limit your intake of sodium, fats, sugar, and alcohol.

2. Exercise 30-Minutes a Day - Find 30 minutes a day to engage in moderate physical activity that increases your breathing and heart rate. You can make exercise more interesting by doing different cardio-aerobic activities each day such as walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, sports, biking, or climbing stairs.

3. Manage Your Weight - Shedding even 10 to 15 pounds can have enormous health benefit by helping you lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and control Type 2 Diabetes. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about the best weight management plan for you.

4. Stress Less - Stress affects your physical and emotional wellbeing and can manifest in symptoms ranging from bodily aches and pains, to fatigue, anxiety or depression. Some great stress management techniques include talking with family or friends, enjoying some private quiet time, doing something physical, and getting enough sleep..

5. Quit Smoking - If you've tried before, don't be discouraged. It takes the average smoker several attempts to break the nicotine habit. Talk to your doctor about medicines or programs that can help.

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Men and women may both experience the following top 5 signs of a heart attack. Women may also experience other symptoms including unexplained or unusual tiredness, nausea or vomiting.

Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
Chest pain or discomfort.
Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
Shortness of breath.


If you feel you or a loved one is having a heart attack, dial 911 immediately. Sometimes other conditions like heartburn can also mimic some symptoms of heart attack. If you are unsure, it's best to be safe and seek emergency care.

Remember, when seconds count, you can count on Covington County Hospital. We are dedicated to exceeding your expectations and have the expert medical staff and technology to provide critical quality care and to get you stabilized fast, right here in your hometown.

Centers for Disease Control: Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms, Heart Disease Fact Sheet, Quitting Smoking -
American Heart Association: