Heart Disease Myths: All Things You Need To Know

Heart Disease Myths

Introduction

Our heart can be defined as the ever running engine of our body. It continues to operate without breaks from conception till death. Due to health mismanagement, many diseases can occur to the heart. Such diseases are called cardiovascular diseases or heart diseases.

Types and causes of heart diseases

The most common forms of heart disease are heart attacks, heart failure, abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia), birth deformities in the heart, etc. 

Heart diseases can occur due to genetic factors as well as lifestyle choices. Adequate heart health can be maintained by keeping regular tabs of our blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels

Heart health, therefore, is a priority to enjoy a fulfilling life. Sadly, when something becomes a priority, misconceptions surround them.  

Henceforth, here are a bunch of the most common and clarified myths surrounding heart diseases.

Myths regarding the occurrence of heart diseases

1. I can only have heart diseases after I turn 50

If we think rationally, old age can not be the only factor causing heart problems. Research evidence shows that the causal factors can be genetic, caused by birth defects or due to detrimental lifestyle patterns such as a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet. 

Major risk factors include blood sugar above permissible levels, high levels of bad cholesterol in blood, obesity, etc. Abnormal blood pressure is another leading causal factor of heart diseases and therefore may happen to seemingly fit adults as well.

2. Only men contract heart diseases

Global statistics show heart diseases as the leading factor underlining reduced life expectancy in men. But this does not mean that women won’t have them. 

For example, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women (World Health Statistics Overview 2019, WHO). But this does not reduce the probability of heart problems for them. The death rate of heart diseases is near equal for both genders.

3. My family has heart problems since many generations, there is no escape

According to ReliableMedRx, A family history of heart problems increases the probability of having them. Nonetheless, practicing precautionary measures can help to mitigate this risk. 

Monitoring sugar, cholesterol and pressure levels in the blood from a young age, maintaining a healthy Basal Metabolic Index ratio (BMI) characterized by a healthy height to weight ratio, exercising regularly and not engaging in substance abuse (excessive use of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs) can help in this regard.

4. Slim and active people cannot have heart diseases

Maintaining a healthy BMI ratio and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of contracting heart diseases. Yet, the risk of heart diseases cannot be completely eliminated by these practices. Irrespective of your body mass, there are all the chances in the world that you can have heart disease.

5. I have smoked for too long, quitting will not help me now

Smoking is definitely injurious to health, but can always give it up. Research evidence shows that within a year of not smoking, the risk of heart attack is reduced by 50%. Some evidence also shows that within a decade of quitting smoking, your heart is as good as new.

Myths regarding the indicators of heart problems

1. I will know when I have a heart attack

A majority of us believe an intense and continuous pain in our chest to be the only symptom of having a heart attack. You can recognize a heart attack by other unassuming symptoms such as aching limbs, neck, jaw and back, breathlessness, and feelings of dizziness.

Similarly, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, the two leading causes of all heart problems can only be curtailed by testing and monitoring them regularly.

2. In heart failure, the heart stops

A heart attack is poles apart from heart failure. While experiencing a heart attack, the heart may stop beating. In contrast, during heart failure, one feels breathless, tired, has swollen limbs, and experiences a rapid heart rate. 

This is primarily because heart failure occurs when there are problems with adequate blood circulation in the body. 

3. It is a heart attack if my heartbeat increases its pace

Not every rapid beating of the heart is an indication of a heart attack. It can occur due to multiple reasons. For example, you could experience a rapidly beating heart due to excitement, fear, exercise, etc. 

Continuous rapid heart rate can also indicate a heart condition called Tachycardia which comes under a category of heart conditions characterized by an abnormally beating heart (arrhythmia)

4. I need to worry about cholesterol problems only from my mid-30s

As stated before, high cholesterol levels often go undetected because they are not checked at the right intervals. Generally, it is recommended that cholesterol levels should be checked at least thrice in every decade after turning 20. Even minors who belong to a family with a history of cholesterol problems must be checked.

Myths about heart attack survivors

1. All forms of exercise and fats are a big no after a heart attack

A sedentary life is considered one of the pivotal lifestyle choices that cause heart diseases. Therefore, it is recommended that once you recover from a heart attack, a moderate exercise plan is followed to keep the heart-healthy.

Certain forms of fat such as saturated fats and trans fats should be restricted. 

Unsaturated fats contained in vegetable oils, fatty fishes, etc. can be consumed after a heart attack.

2. A minor heart attack means nothing

The slightest indication from the body about a malfunctioning organ is a signal for an underlying problem that needs resolution. A minor heart attack therefore can indicate a blockage in blood vessels, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. These issues if not dealt with in time can cause fatal heart attacks or strokes.

3. Heart surgery can make my heart as good as new

Angioplasty and open heart surgeries have saved countless lives. Nonetheless, they do not lead to a miraculous transformation of the heart. They are only meant to correct the immediate issue such as a blocked blood vessel or a hole in the heart. Adequate follow-up through proper medication, nutritious food, and exercise are necessary to regain former stamina.

Myths about preventing heart diseases

1. If I take medication for diabetes and vitamin supplements, I will never have heart attacks

Inflated blood sugar levels are a source of problems in blood circulation. Medically altering blood sugar levels can lead to swollen blood vessels. This increases the probability of a heart attack and stroke. Therefore, although diabetes medication is crucial to maintain heart health, it does not stop a heart attack.

Vitamin supplements of Vitamin C and E contain beta carotene factor and antioxidants which are proven to reduce the occurrence of heart diseases.

Conclusion

Heart diseases can happen to anyone regardless of age and outward appearance. Also, not everyone with potential risk factors may have it in all cases. Heart diseases can be a consequence of our genes as well as our lifestyle. Nonetheless, our lifestyle choices can alter the chances of contracting heart diseases considerably.

We cannot control what we are born with. But we can always make wise choices such as having a nutritious diet at regular intervals, moderate exercise, and regular health checkups.