By Orlando Health Heart Institute Cardiology Group
Approximately one in four Americans will die of heart disease this year. Despite its prevalence, many misunderstandings still surround heart disease. Here are seven myths about heart disease—and the truth about each of them.
Myth: If I already have heart disease, I shouldn’t exercise.
Fact: Research shows that heart attack survivors who exercise regularly and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week.
Myth: Most older people have high blood pressure, so it shouldn’t be a huge concern.
Fact: False. Over time, high blood pressure damages your arteries and disrupts the normal function of the circulatory system, forcing the heart to work harder to do its job. If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems.
Myth: I have a family history of heart disease, so I’m destined to have it, too.
Fact: Genetic factors can increase your risk for heart disease, but that doesn’t mean you’re predestined to have it. It does mean that prevention is more critical. If you have a family history of heart disease, eating a balanced diet, not smoking, getting regular exercise and regularly checking your blood pressure and cholesterol are all important preventive measures you must take to reduce your risk.
Myth: I’m having chest pain; it must be a heart attack.
Fact: Chest pain can result from many conditions other than heart attack, from pancreatitis to pneumonia or panic attack. Although chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack, other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, sleep disturbances, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back.
Myth: A low-fat diet is the best way to reduce your heart disease risk.
Fact: Eating healthy improves heart function. However, avoiding red meat, cheese and other foods high in saturated fat isn’t as important as eating a balanced diet. Consume more fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to reduce your heart disease risk.
Myth: I don’t need to worry about my salt intake.
Fact: Most people’s daily salt intake is five times higher than what they actually need. The recommended dietary intake is no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. Processed, canned and restaurant foods typically contain high levels of sodium, which raises your blood pressure, increasing your heart disease risk.
Myth: I’m young. I don’t need to worry about heart disease.
Fact: Heart disease is more common among older adults; however, as early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. If you smoke, are overweight or have diabetes, this can increase your risk for heart disease—no matter what age you are. Start practicing healthy habits today to maintain your heart health for the future. Call out box
Orlando Health Heart Institute Cardiology Group has 15 offices located throughout Central Florida, including the new Orlando Health Medical Pavilion – Osceola, located at 1001 East Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, opening January 2019, giving you convenient access to expert cardiovascular care. To make an appointment with one of our cardiologists, visit OrlandoHealth.com/Cardiology or call 321.841.OHHI (6444). Next-day appointments are available for new patients.