Busting Heart Health Myths

When you think of heart disease, your mind may quickly picture an older man with a previous heart attack, family history of high blood pressure and years of smoking history. However, heart disease affects many people who may seem like a picture of health. That’s why understanding the facts about these conditions that kill more Americans each year than any other disease is so important.

Read on to understand some other common misconceptions about heart disease. By busting these heart health myths, you’ll be better informed about your own risk and ready to help your loved ones live heart healthy.

Heart disease in men and women

Myth: Heart disease is a man’s disease.

Fact: Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women.

One in three women die from the disease, which includes coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, the American Heart Association notes.

Women become more at risk for heart disease and heart attacks during menopause. Why? Estrogen has heart health benefits; it helps reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and relaxes blood vessels for better blood flow. But in menopause, women’s bodies produce less of this protective hormone.

Women also live about five years longer than men, and the likelihood of women experiencing heart conditions grows as they age.

Heart disease and age

Myth: I’m not old enough to worry about heart conditions.

Fact: Heart attacks are striking more young people than ever, especially women, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart disease can affect all of us, no matter age, weight or activity level.

Factors that increase heart disease risk include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, tobacco use, high cholesterol, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and a history of preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy caused by high blood pressure.

Family history is also paramount. Does your brother or mother have high cholesterol or high blood pressure? Talk to your primary care provider about how you can prioritize your heart health with simple changes, such as walking for 30 minutes a day.

Heart disease recovery

Myth: I’ll never recover from a heart attack.

Fact: Your recovery largely depends on quick treatment and your commitment to necessary lifestyle adjustments.

The sooner you get treatment, the better. Most heart damage happens within the first two hours of an attack — that’s why it’s so important to get to a hospital quickly. Your physician will treat your blockage with clot-dissolving drugs, surgery or a balloon angioplasty, a procedure that involves inserting a small balloon into the artery to expand it and allow blood flow to resume.

Once you’re home, your medical team will outline helpful lifestyle changes, such as ways to improve your diet, quit smoking and manage stress.

Heart disease and your future

Myth: If I have risk factors for heart disease, there’s nothing I can do.

Fact: It’s never to late to take steps for a heart healthy future!

Talk to your healthcare provider about your particular risk factors and to get the support you need to eat healthier, stop smoking or start exercising. Your provider can also help with resources to help you manage stress and get more rest. Even simple changes can have a big impact on your heart health, not to mention your overall feeling of wellbeing.

Need a heart check-up? Meet our cardiology team and schedule an appointment.