By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
Since the Vestavia Hills location of TrustCare opened on Jan. 4, Dr. David Hardin has been hard at work.
The clinic has a combination of primary care offerings as well as fulfilling urgent care needs.
Following the holiday season and its coinciding uptick in COVID-19 cases, TrustCare was slammed with coronavirus testing appointments.
“Now we seem to be on the other side of this,” Hardin said. “We’re seeing numbers go back down and we are starting to see some of those cases we forgot about.” In the times of coronavirus, it can be easy to forget about the seasonal sinus infections, he said.
Though Hardin is new to TrustCare, he isn’t new to Birmingham.
He grew up in Homewood and attended school in the city for a time before moving to nearby Alabaster.
“I went to Edgewood Elementary long ago,” he said. “Then I moved to Alabaster and went to high school at Thompson.”
After receiving his medical degree at the University of Alabama’s School of Medicine, Hardin completed his residency and received special training at Brookwood Baptist Health with an emphasis in sports medicine.
“I did a mix of seeing regular primary care patients but then would take referrals or walk-ins if somebody had an orthopedic complaint,” he said. His work also included serving as a physician for local sports teams, including several high school teams as well as Birmingham’s short-lived professional football team.
“I was one of the doctors that handled concussions specifically for the Birmingham Iron,” he said.
When Hardin joined the TrustCare team at the company’s first Birmingham location, on Montclair Road, he had a vision not only to provide primary care and urgent care but also to create partnerships with teams. This time, TrustCare is working to partner with local companies to provide primary care services for their staffs.
Attention to Heart Health
During this pandemic, health has been at the forefront of many minds. In February, national attention is paid to heart health as the American Heart Association recognizes American Heart Month.
For those looking to up their heart healthy routine, Hardin pointed to the regular contenders with which many struggle: diet and exercise.
He notes that it is important to stay away from highly processed foods, carb-rich dishes such as French fries and sugary desserts.
In addition, Hardin said heavy exercise is called “cardio” for a reason. Getting in heart-pumping exercise helps strengthen the heart’s ability to pump efficiently.
“Speaking a little bit more specifically to COVID, we know that people with low vitamin D don’t tend to do as well,” Hardin said. “So, taking some over-the-counter vitamin D and getting a little bit of sunshine as much as you can can help both from a COVID standpoint and in general health and well-being.”
A good sleep schedule is also something to work on maintaining.
“Sleeping in and constantly connecting to a device while we are in quarantine can really wreak havoc on our sleep cycles,” Hardin said.
He suggests limiting caffeine after lunchtime and going to bed at the same time every night.
When it comes to staying up late to get that last email written and sent, consider the light from your computer. It can throw off your body clock and make it harder to get to sleep.
“We know that a huge percentage of heart attacks actually occur in the morning hours, so that can be a time when our body is under stress,” Hardin said. “We don’t want to add any more stress to that by being off on our sleep patterns.”
There are many things that we can do alone to be healthy, but they do not replace the kind of monitoring available through a medical professional.
“There are things that we want to track sequentially,” he said. “Like how your heart sounds. You want someone to listen to that several times over the course of your lifetime, because it’s going to change.”
The plumbing of the heart is something that evolves over time, and it’s important for a physician to monitor it.
“We want to make sure you’re taking in those good fats and omega-3s,” he said.
“Taking an over-the-counter fish oil is beneficial for nearly everybody,” Hardin said. “A blood test can kind of help you dial that in even more.”
Especially for those with a family history of heart disease, things such as lab tests and EKGs can provide doctors with a clearer image of how the heart is working.
Through testing, doctors can begin to prescribe cholesterol medicine, if needed. Some people can benefit from a stricter change in diet or more exercise.
At TrustCare, Hardin and his team are available for heart heath counseling, among a variety of services that help give patients the full picture of how to maintain or improve their health.
Hardin advocates having a relationship with a primary care physician you can talk to about your health and who can monitor changes throughout your life.
“We’re not here to judge, but we can’t help you if we don’t know what is going on,” Hardin said.
“The most important thing through all of this is having a relationship with a physician. If you’ve got a relationship, we will get to know you and know case-by-case what we need to do to keep you healthy.”