Shelby Baptist gears up for heart-health initiative

Published 11:17 am Monday, January 17, 2022

By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter 

ALABASTER – Shelby Baptist Medical Center is focusing on a new initiative for 2022, which aims to help everyone live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

The Heart Health Challenge is a hospital-lead initiative that asks the community to sign up for the challenge online through Shelby Baptist Medical Center online.

“After doing so, you will be challenged in various ways throughout the month of February to live a heart-healthy lifestyle,” said Brittney S. Knox-Mensah, communications manager for Shelby Baptist. “Those that sign up will receive all kinds of tips, including healthy recipes, exercise videos and interactive quizzes. We are encouraging people to sign up now, so they are ready for the weekly emails in February.”

Dr. Cliff Vance, a physician affiliated with Shelby Baptist Medical Center said there was a study from Norway conducted several years ago that centered around the prevention of heart disease.

“The study basically stated that if you could control these seven factors: not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, having a normal blood sugar, having normal blood pressure, exercising regularly, having a good cholesterol level and eating a healthy diet, then you could cut your risk of heart disease by 70 percent,” Vance said.

Heart disease can often be found in many forms, and is often more likely to affect older patients, although Vance said there are forms which can affect people at any age.

“Your heart has essentially four parts: a pump, pipes, valves and an electrical system,” Vance said. “All of these can ‘go bad’ and cause issues for patients. It is certainly much more likely to need a stent or bypass (pipe problem) at an older age, but I have seen patients as young as 26 need a bypass surgery for blockages. That person was a smoker. Additionally, patients who do drugs or use heavy amounts of stimulants for weight loss or to keep them awake, may be prone to have arrhythmias at any age. There is never a time to ignore your heart.”

Vance said since COVID-19, there has been a number of diseases that can go untreated for longer than normal due to the pandemic.

“Patients can be scared to come to their doctor for fear of getting outside and catching COVID-19 in a waiting room/hospital,” Vance said. “So, I don’t think it is just heart health that has been ignored, but rather the entire gamut of medical diseases. The key take-home here is to not ignore symptoms, but to have them checked out.”

Vance said it can often be broad on how to keep a heart healthy, but there are many benefits to exercising, which often lowers blood pressure, blood sugar and helps with weight loss.

For more information about Shelby Baptist’s heart health initiative, visit Shelbybaptistmedicalcenter.com.