Outdated assumptions and Google have led to confusion around heart health. The editors at Now to Love asked two leading heart experts to debunk these commonly mistaken cardiovascular disease myths.
I’m too young to worry about heart disease.
“Risk factors begin accumulating as early as our 20s, so we need to be observant of our heart health at every stage of our lives,” advises Julie Anne Mitchell, the spokesperson on women’s health for The Heart Foundation.
I’ll be able feel it if I have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Dr. Nikki Stamp, an Australian heart surgeon and author of Can You Die Of A Broken Heart?, explains the only way to “catch” heart disease symptoms is to see your doctor. “Your doctor can do a heart health check,” Dr. Stamp says. “That way you’ll know your cholesterol and blood pressure and be checked for conditions like diabetes.”
Nonprescription supplements won’t reduce high blood pressure.
Supplements such as potassium and garlic can lower blood pressure, but they should never be taken unless prescribed by a doctor. This is because high potassium can cause kidney problems or trigger other heart conditions, particularly if you are already on medication for blood pressure. It is best to increase your intake of nutrients such as potassium and garlic naturally through a healthy, balanced diet.
Everyone experiences a heart attack the same way.
Heart attacks are not one-size-fits-all and the combination of symptoms differs. “Men are more likely to have pain in the middle of the chest that travels to the arm or jaw,” Stamp says. “Whereas women have symptoms like tiredness, nausea, stomach pain, or back pain.”
You should eat as little fat as possible.
Fats aren’t the enemy — it’s about choosing the right kinds of fats and getting rid of others. “Avoid saturated fat and up your intake of good fats, like those from avocado and fish,” Stamp advises.
Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do.
A genetic predisposition certainly places you at a higher risk, but it doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. “Lifestyle risk factors can be managed by not smoking, having a healthy diet, keeping your weight under control, and being physically active,” Mitchell says.
You should take it easy if you have heart disease.
Heart attack survivors are encouraged to exercise their heart to reduce the risk of reoccurrence. Speak to your doctor about an activity that’s right for you.
Did you know a broken heart can affect your health? Find out why:
This post was written by Sharon Goldstein Hunt. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.