9 Myths About Heart Disease

Some people might have misconceptions about the risk factors for heart disease, or heart disease itself. Here are the 9 common myths with truths that will give you the correct information you require to plan the best way to a healthy heart.

Updated: August 18, 2020

Some people might have misconceptions about the risk factors for heart disease, or heart disease itself. Here are the 9 common myths with truths that will give you the correct information you require to plan the best way to a healthy heart.


1. If you take a cholesterol-lowering drug, you can eat anything:


Cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from two sources. One is your liver makes some and secondly, you get from certain foods that you eat. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver resulting in lowering the blood cholesterol levels. This will reduce the amount of cholesterol deposited in your arteries. If you take a statin and continue to eat foods that are high in cholesterol plus saturated fat, the medicine will not be as effective.

What you can do:

Limit your cholesterol and saturated fat intake, so your statin can keep the cholesterol level in range to reduce the risk of heart disease.


2. Having higher blood pressure when you are older is okay:


The artery walls become harden with age which forces the heart to pump harder. This sets up a vicious cycle. Over time blood pounding against the artery walls damages the wall of the artery. The overworked heart muscle becomes less effective and pumps harder to meet the body's requirement for blood. This further damages the arteries and allows fat into the artery walls. In this way, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.


What you can do:

If your blood pressure is above 140/90 millimeters of mercury, then take medicines and follow some lifestyle changes to maintain it in range.


3. Diabetes won't cause heart disease if you take diabetes medication:


Diabetes medication helps lower blood glucose levels. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels prevents microvascular complications, such as loss of vision, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction, and nerve damage. But large blood vessels that become inflamed and diseased has less effect on blood glucose control. This does not reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. These vessels benefit more from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

What you can do:

Take your diabetes medication to prevent microvascular complications. Also, work on the risk factors reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, stop smoking and lose extra weight. This way you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.


4. You can lower your risk of heart disease with vitamins and supplements:


The antioxidant vitamins E, C, and beta carotene taken as supplements don't help much lowering the risk of heart disease. Your body absorbs and utilizes vitamins and minerals best when they are acquired through foods.

What you can do:

Ensure you get the vitamins and minerals your body requires by eating a wide variety of nutritious foods of every color.  


5. If you have smoked for years, you can not reduce your risk of heart disease by quitting:


The benefits of quitting smoking start the moment you quit irrespective of your age, how long you have smoked, or how many cigarettes a day you have smoked. Your heart attack risk will be dropped by 50 percent, one year after quitting smoking. In 10 years, the risk will be the same as if you never smoked.

What you can do:

Seek help, do whatever possible to quit smoking. You may require nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or a stop-smoking medication to succeed.


6. Heart disease is associated with man:


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over age 65, just as it is for men. When you are aged, 70 percent of men and women have cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and hypertension. Over time risk continues to rise, which may be 83 percent in the case of men and 87 percent in the case of women.

What you can do:

Whether you are a man or a woman, a baseline heart examination can be conducted that includes checking your cholesterol and blood pressure. Follow your doctor's recommendations to keep those in range if elevated.


7. If you have heart disease, you should cut down fat as much as possible:


It is true that you should eat a diet low in saturated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, and trans fat. But on the other hand, unsaturated fats in vegetable oils and other foods, are beneficial for your heart. In fact, eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, twice a week can lower the risk of heart disease.


What you can do:

Include low-fat dairy products, oily fishes, nuts, and olive oil in your diet. Avoid red meat. If you eat meat, make sure the cuts are lean, and remove the extra fat and skin from your poultry.


8. Angioplasty and stenting or bypass surgery fix your heart:


Angioplasty and bypass surgery can relieve chest pain (angina) and improves the quality of life. But they do not stop atherosclerosis. Without resolving the issues that contribute to atherosclerosis, the fatty plaque will continue blocking the arteries which will result in the return of angina or in worse cases a heart attack or stroke.


What you can do:

After undergoing angioplasty or bypass surgery, you should work on the underlying issues such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, a poor diet, smoking, or lack of physical activities.


9. A small heart attack can be ignored:


A small heart attack may even pass unnoticed.  But it's a warning sign that you are in progress of having serious heart disease, and your next heart attack may be severe or can lead to death.

What you can do:

Minimize your risk of heart attack by keeping your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure in the normal range. Quit smoking, and visit your doctor regularly to ensure no risk factors are elevated.


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