a man experiencing heart failure

The heart is the most important organ in your body. February is dedicated to Heart Month, which is a perfect time to reflect on your heart health.

According to the Heart Failure Society of America, it is estimated that more than 960,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed and 360,000 people pass away from heart failure each year. By taking care of your heart and making changes to your daily routine, you can avoid being a part of the statistics.

There are many simple changes you can incorporate into your daily life to help strengthen your heart. Some of these changes may be more challenging than others, such as, if you are a smoker, trying to quit smoking, but other changes may not be as hard to implement. Did you know that simply lowering your stress level will help with your heart health and lower your chances of having heart failure? Taking time for yourself to relax and unwind can do wonders for your heart and your mental health.

People can also be at a higher risk of heart failure due to their age and family history. If you are a male over the age of 45 or a woman over the age of 55, you are at a higher risk of heart failure. If your family has a history of heart failure, you are at a higher risk. If you are unsure if your family has a history of heart failure, make time to talk with your loved ones about your family’s medical history.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Are you ready to have a healthy, happy heart? Try some of these tips to strengthen your heart:

  • Be active
  • Quit smoking (if you are a smoker)
  • Eat healthy
  • Manage stress
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control your alcohol intake
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Signs of Heart Failure

If you are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms, you could be experiencing heart failure. Find a care provider if you begin experiencing:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and lack of appetite
  • Swelling of belly area
  • Chest pain
  • Very rapid weight gain
  • Persistent cough
  • Swelling in the legs

Some more urgent signs of heart failure are extreme chest pain, fainting, rapid or irregular heartbeat and sudden shortness of breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should immediately visit a UofL Health – Emergency Department for emergency care.

If you believe that you are experiencing some of these symptoms that are not as severe, you should check out a UofL Health – Urgent Care Plus location. The urgent care will be able to diagnose your issue and give you next steps for treatment.

Worried you are at a high risk for heart failure? Talk to your primary care provider about your risk level for heart failure and changes you can make to help lower your risk. If you do not have a primary care provider, visit UofL Health – Primary Care to find a provider near you.

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Article by: Stephanie Moore, M.D.

Stephanie Moore, M.D., is a board-certified physician specializing in cardiovascular disease and advanced heart failure, with a strong commitment to compassionate patient care. She earned her medical degree from the prestigious University of Cincinnati and completed her fellowship in cardiovascular disease at University of Utah. Dr. Moore's clinical interests include cardiac transplant, ventricular assist devices and advanced heart failure therapies. She is a vital member of the UofL Health – Jewish Hospital and UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center's Advanced Heart Failure Therapies Clinic, where her team works to diagnose and treat patients with advanced heart failure, offering a comprehensive approach that includes medication, lifestyle changes and possibly surgical intervention. Dr. Moore believes in treating her patients with the same care and compassion she would offer a dear friend, emphasizing the importance of a positive outlook and hope in conjunction with medical intervention. With her dedication and expertise, she is at the forefront of transplant care and research, aiming to stabilize, slow or even reverse the progression of heart failure for her patients.

All posts by Stephanie Moore, M.D.