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10 Common Myths That We Hear About Heart Disease



In the last ten years, doctors and surgeon’s knowledge of how the heart works have changed. Unless you follow medical research, it is likely that your knowledge may be outdated. Here are some of the most common myths that we hear about heart disease and what the truth really is.


Myth 1- You must ‘take it easy’ if you have heart disease


For many people with heart disease, sitting around and doing little amounts of exercise, can actually harm you more. This is because it can lead to an increased risk of getting a blood clot in your leg and also affect your overall health. It is actually recommended that you maintain a good level of physical health as it helps to improve blood flow around the body, whilst also helping you to maintain good overall health.


Some people may want to consult with their doctor before they do a certain exercise, however, any amounts of walking can also be beneficial.


Myth 2- If you are on medication for high cholesterol, then you can eat anything


Cholesterol is a type of fat that can be found in the blood; this can either be made by your liver or come from certain foods. Medications called Statin, can help to reduce the level of cholesterol that the liver produces, which will help to reduce the amount of cholesterol that is in the heart. If you continue to eat foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat then you may not see any changes in your level of cholesterol in the blood.


If you have high cholesterol, then it is a good idea to change your diet to have fewer foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. This will help to ensure that the statin can have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels.


Myth 3- Having a higher blood pressure as you get older is okay


Although it is normal for your blood pressure to increase as you get older, it does not mean that it is a good thing. As you get older the artery walls become stiff and therefore forces the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body. This causes damage to the muscle and arteries; it can also mean that fat is more likely to build up in the artery wall. If you have high blood pressure, this can put you at an increased risk of having a heart attack.


Try to have your blood pressure checked regularly, if it is higher than normal talk to your doctor about ways to help bring it back down.


Myth 4- If you have diabetes and take your medication, then it will not cause heart disease.


Medication for diabetes can help to lower the blood sugar level, which is important to prevent complications that will affect the small blood vessels (microvascular complications), that affect organs like the eyes and kidneys. However, this medication can have less effect on the larger blood vessels which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. The heart usually benefits more from a healthy rate of cholesterol and low blood pressure


If you have diabetes then it is important to take your medication to reduce the risk of having a microvascular complication. You should also aim to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure; it will help to quit smoking and try to get down to a healthy weight.



Myth 5- Vitamins and supplements can help to reduce your risk of heart disease

Vitamin E, C and beta carotene can help lower the risk of developing heart disease. However clinical trials have not been able to give a definite conclusion as to how successful they are. This means that there is no scientific evidence to prove that they will be beneficial.


The body absorbs vitamins better when they are introduced via food. To ensure that you are getting the vitamins then it is best to get them from a variety of foods of every colour, rather than from shop-bought tablets


Myth 6- Your risk of getting heart disease will not be reduced by quitting smoking


You will start to benefit as soon as you stop smoking, no matter how old you are, how long you have been smoking and how many you smoked a day. After a year of not smoking the risk of developing heart disease will reduce by 50%. After ten years of no smoking, your risk of developing it will be at the same level as someone who has never smoked.


If you want to quit smoking then you may need to seek help. Which can include having a patch, gum or medication to help you quit.


Myth 7- Heart disease mainly affects men


Evidence shows that since 1984 more women have died of heart disease than men, and is, in fact, one of the leading causes of death in women over the age of 65, as well as in men.


Whether you are a man or a woman you should ask your doctor to check your levels of cholesterol and look at your blood pressure, if they are high then you should follow the recommendations that your doctor gives you.


Myth 8- If you have heart disease then you should avoid foods that have fat in them


If you have heart disease then it is true that you should avoid foods that have saturated fats in them. But you do not need to avoid unsaturated fats, these are found in vegetable oils and other foods. Eating fish, such as salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acid can help to lower your risk of heart disease.


If you eat meats then you should try to stick to the lean cuts and remove the skin from poultry. Your diet should include low-fat dairy products, nuts, olive oil and fatty fishes.


Myth 9- Having a small heart attack is not a big issue


Some small heart attacks may go unnoticed; however, they are definitely a big deal. A small heart attack is a warning sign that you have heart disease, and can also lead to a more serious heart attack, that may be fatal if left untreated.


Reduce your risk of having a heart attack by stopping smoking, maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level. You should also see your doctor regularly to keep the risk down.


Myth 10- Bypass surgery or stenting will fix your heart


These surgeries can help to relieve the pain that you are experiencing and also improve your overall quality of life, however, it will not stop the underlying disease. Arteries will continue to get clogged by fatty plaque if you do not make any changes, which can result in the return of your angina or even a heart attack.


If you have angina, it is important that you make changes to your lifestyle even after surgery. This can include reducing your cholesterol level and blood pressure, having a nutritious diet, giving up smoking and doing regular exercise.


This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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Photo credit Giulio Mazzarini

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