Heart Disease Prevention: 7 Myths Standing Between You and Good Health

Healthy Heart|Apr.18, 2019


What makes you a candidate for heart disease? Are you only at risk if it runs in your family? Are you in the clear if you're young and mostly healthy? It's not that cut and dry, unfortunately, which is why people tend to ignore early signs of heart disease.

But heart disease prevention is important, and everyone should take proactive measures to protect their hearts. While some groups may be more at risk for heart disease, we all have better health to gain by being more heart-conscious.

This is easier said than done, however, especially when several myths about heart disease can easily derail someone trying to better their health. For instance, just because your mother or father has heart disease doesn't necessarily mean that you will, too.

Myths like this one need debunking. That's why we're demystifying the following myths about heart disease prevention.

Myth 1: Heart Disease Runs in My Family. There's Nothing I Can Do to Prevent it.

Though you can't change your family history or background, you can adapt your lifestyle to significantly lower your risk of heart disease. This starts by being proactive and seeking the right information. Get with your doctor and learn what you can do to keep your heart healthy. Then, draw up an action plan. Make sure it includes getting regular exercise, managing your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Myth 2: No One in My Family Has Heart Disease. There's No Way I'll Get it.

While your family members may have lived a long and healthy life, that doesn't automatically mean you're not at risk for heart disease. A sedentary lifestyle can significantly increase your chances of getting heart disease. Get your heart checked periodically to ensure that it remains healthy. This can give you the chance to correct a problem if it's spotted.

Myth 3: If I Had High Blood Pressure, I'd Know it.

The thing about high blood pressure — also called hypertension — is that it rarely presents with warning signs. Those who have it often don't exhibit any symptoms until their life is at risk. Being overweight, stressed or a smoker can put you at risk for high blood pressure. However, these are circumstances you can control by making changes to your lifestyle. And if lifestyle changes don't quite do the trick, doctors can prescribe medications to keep your blood pressure in check.

Keeping an eye on your blood pressure, either by testing it on your own or making an appointment with your doctor, is essential in preventing heart attacks and memory loss later in life, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Myth 4: My Chest Doesn't Hurt, So I Can't Be Having a Heart Attack.

Chest pains are a signal that you should go to the hospital. However, not every heart attack comes with the intense pain of a classic heart attack, according to Harvard Health. That's why it's important to be aware of all early signs of heart disease.

Other possible warning signs of a heart attack include discomfort or pain in your arms, jaw or back; dizziness; shortness of breath; cold sweats; or nausea. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call an ambulance immediately. Every second counts, and it's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your life.

Myth 5: I Can't Exercise After I've Had a Heart Attack.

This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, you should aim to become more active every day after a heart attack. Exercising regularly after a heart attack improves your heart muscle function, and it can help prevent a heart attack by helping you to manage your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. It's important to discuss any new fitness plans with your doctor, especially if you've had a heart attack.

Myth 7: I Don't Eat Meat, So I Don't Need to Worry About Heart Disease.

Although some studies show that eating red meat can increase your risk of heart disease, unhealthy vegetarian diets — such as those packed with fried and high-calorie fast foods — can also put you at risk. In fact, a study published in the Annals of Translational Medicine found that those who followed a vegetarian diet were just as much at risk for heart disease.

A high consumption of sweets, soft drinks, refined grains and potatoes can cause obesity and lead to a higher risk of heart conditions — meat or no meat.

The good news: You absolutely can keep your heart healthy, and it's never too early to make important lifestyle changes. Start small, and it'll pay off big time for your health in the long run.


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