According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States.


During American Heart Month, our team at UAB Medical West wants to provide you with information on how you can improve upon your heart health by establishing better habits, including eating and exercise.

What Is Heart Disease?

More than 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.


Risk factors for heart disease include:


  • Age

  • Being post-menopausal
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Gender (male)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Unmanageable stress

While some risk factors like age and family history cannot be changed, there are some risk factors of heart disease you can control. Therefore, it is important to control what you can when it comes to keeping a healthy heart.


Let’s take a look at some ways you can improve your heart health, starting today.

Take Control of Your Numbers

Abnormal blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels can place added pressure on your heart, increasing your risk of heart disease. As a result, it is important to make sure you obtain an annual physical to ensure your numbers are where they need to be for optimal health.


In addition to yearly screenings, lifestyle changes like healthy eating and exercise can help to lower your numbers if they are reading too high.

Exercise for Your Heart

Your heart is just like any other muscle in your body. In order to be working at its optimal level, it needs to be improved and strengthened through exercise.


Researchers recommend exercising at least 30-minutes a day, most days of the week. Within that short amount of time, your heart disease risk can be reduced, as well as your blood pressure lowered, your cholesterol level improved, and a healthy weight maintained!

It has been found that aerobic exercise benefits the heart the most. Therefore, you might want to try your hand at: 


  • Brisk walking

  • Cycling
  • Jumping rope
  • Rowing
  • Running
  • Stair climbing
  • Swimming

However, the key to exercise is finding something you enjoy, so that you are more motivated to exercise most days of the week. So, make it a point to try to find an exercise routine that you can fall in love with for both your heart health and overall health, too!

Eat For Your Heart

What you eat on a daily basis matters, especially when it comes to your heart health. While it is okay to have your favorite guilty pleasures (like cake and candy), it is important to do so in moderation.


The majority of the time, you should choose foods that give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong. Check out this list of heart-healthy “superfoods” that include:


  • Avocadoes

  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Fatty fish
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Walnuts
  • Whole grains

Fortunately, many of these healthy habits you do to promote a healthier heart can also boost your overall physical and mental health—making it a win-win!

Discover the ways the medical team at UAB Medical West in Bessemer, AL, is here to help you when it comes to matters of the heart.

Make an appointment at UAB Medical West today by calling 285-481-7000. We are here to serve the communities of Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance.