A blue and silver stethoscope and a red heart-shaped stress ball on a white table with a bright white background.

February isn't just the month of love; it's also Heart Health Month, a time to turn our attention to one of the most vital organs in our body—the heart. UAB Medical West promotes cardiovascular health and ensures our community is informed, healthy, and happy.

In this spirit, we've compiled a list of effective ways to improve heart health, backed by our expertise and commitment to your long-lasting well-being.

Embrace Heart-Healthy Eating

A heart-healthy diet is a cornerstone of cardiovascular health. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your meals. Focus on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and walnuts, and opt for healthy fats found in avocados and olive oil.

Limit processed foods, sugar, sodium, and saturated fats intake to help manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Remember, what you eat directly impacts your heart health.

Get Moving!

Exercise is another critical element in maintaining heart health. As recommended by health experts, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week

Whether it's brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or joining a fitness class, find an activity you enjoy. Regular exercise helps control weight, reduces heart disease risk, and strengthens heart muscle.

Stress Less

Chronic stress can take a toll on your heart. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine to protect your heart. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and spending time in nature are all ways to effectively manage stress. Additionally, ensure you get enough sleep, as quality rest is crucial for heart health.

Quit Smoking & Limit Alcohol

Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart health. Limiting alcohol intake can also benefit your heart, as excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure.

Regular Health Screenings

Stay on top of your health by scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor. Monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes can help catch potential issues early and adjust your lifestyle or treatment plan as needed. UAB Medical West provides various cardiovascular health services to support your journey to a healthier heart.

Foster Connections

Social connections can have a positive impact on your heart health. Engaging with friends, family, and community can reduce stress and promote well-being. Whether through shared activities, support groups, or volunteering, fostering meaningful relationships benefits your heart.

Be Informed

Educating yourself about cardiovascular health is crucial. Understand the risk factors for heart disease, recognize the signs of heart-related issues, and know when to seek medical help. UAB Medical West offers resources and programs to educate and empower our community to take charge of their heart health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Heart Health

What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

Heart disease risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, unhealthy diet, and a family history of heart disease. Managing these risk factors through lifestyle changes and medication can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Heart Disease?

To reduce your risk of heart disease, adopt a healthier lifestyle:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
  • Exercise regularly, aiming for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques, physical activity, or counseling.
  • Undergo regular health screenings to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes risk.

What Is the Difference Between Heart Attack & Stroke?

The difference is where the blood flow is restricted: the heart or brain. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, often by a blood clot, causing damage to the heart muscle. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients, leading to cell death. Both conditions require immediate medical attention.

What Are the Signs of a Heart Attack?

The signs of a heart attack can include chest pain or discomfort, upper body pain (in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach), shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness, or cold sweats. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Why Is It Important to Monitor Cholesterol Levels?

High cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Monitoring and managing your cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, and medication can help prevent these conditions.

For more detailed information and personalized advice on maintaining heart health, schedule a visit with your UAB Medical West physician today.

Keep Your Heart Healthy Year Round with UAB Medical West

Improving heart health is a many-sided approach that involves making informed lifestyle choices. Adopting heart-healthy habits can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and lead a happier, healthier life.

Let's use this February to kickstart our journey towards better cardiovascular health. At UAB Medical West, we're here to support you every step of the way. Your heart health is our priority; together, we can make a difference.

Improve Your Health in 2024 with UAB Medical West

The health and wellness of the residents of Birmingham and the surrounding communities are our #1 focus. From expert cardiovascular rehabilitation to state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging, we have what it takes to protect your health. Call us today at (205) 481-7000 or contact us online to schedule an appointment!