Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 650,000 people each year and disproportionately impacting communities of color. African Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than whites. While these are sobering statistics that directly impacts the community Alameda Health System (AHS) serves, the good news is that many cardiovascular diseases can be prevented through education and healthy lifestyle changes.

“Heart-healthy living involves understanding your risk, making healthy choices, and taking steps to reduce your chances of getting heart disease,” said Sophie Barbant, MD, medical director of the Highland Hospital Cardiology Clinical and Noninvasive Cardiology Laboratory at the Wilma Chan Highland Hospital Campus (WCHHC).

She shared some key ways patients can proactively participate in managing their own heart health including:

    • o Following a balanced diet of fresh foods that are low in saturated fats, added sugars and salt
    • o Staying active with regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight
    • o Avoiding all types of smoking
    • o Reducing alcohol consumption
    • o Managing cholesterol and blood pressure
    • o Knowing your family history

In addition to these behaviors, one of the critical ways AHS patients can proactively manage their heart health is by keeping up with regular screenings and wellness visits to their primary care providers (PCPs). Barbant shared that a PCP can recognize warning signs, flag unhealthy habits to prevent long-term heart problems and refer patients to the cardiology clinic if needed.  The majority of patients seen in the AHS cardiology clinic are referrals from PCPs. The cardiology clinic at the WCHHC serves approximately 400 patients and performs over 1,000 cardiovascular diagnostic tests each month. They also educate patients on heart health.

AHS’s cardiovascular testing programs are held to the highest standards. In 2021 all three AHS acute care hospitals were accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) for vascular testing and echocardiography.  In 2022 AHS received two American Heart Association Mission Lifeline accolades for outstanding performance by meeting or exceeding guideline therapy recommendations in treating patients presenting with Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI) and ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI).

It is AHS patients who benefit from the award-winning cardiology care and services. “We continue to be humbled by the courage and grace of the patients that we have the distinct privilege to serve,” shared Barbant.

For more information on how to reduce your risk of heart attack and maintain a healthy heart visit:

American Heart Association

Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits

Office of Minority Health (OMH)

Red Cross CPR Certification