10 Cardiovascular Disease Facts And Common Myths; In the 2018 report by the American Heart Association, it has been said that cardiovascular disease accounts for 1 out of 3 deaths in the US. There are more deaths caused by heart diseases each year compared to the combined fatality from all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases have been the world’s number one cause of death which is about 17.9 million deaths per year in 2015 and is expected to dramatically increase by 30% by 2030.
Due to the statistics, most people have gone down the path of a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent the disease. Everyone has known about this disease over the past decades but as the awareness rises, the misconceptions around it seem to spread too. This usually leads to mismanagement of the symptoms and treatments.
10 Cardiovascular Disease Facts And Common Myths
Here are 10 common myths about the deadly disease and the actual facts behind them.
1. “Younger people are not prone to heart diseases.”
It has been found by several studies that the risk for heart disease increases as you get older. But the fact is that everyone is at risk of cardiovascular diseases no matter what age. There is news about young people suffering from sudden cardiac death and those undergoing surgeries due to severe congenital conditions.
Some of the reasons include genetics and lifestyle, where risk factors are very high for obesity and Type II diabetes. Even middle-aged people who live a sedentary life with smoking habits are more likely to get a heart disease than older people who live a healthy, active life.
2. “There’s nothing you can do if heart disease is in your family history.”
While it is true that the risk of a heart disease increases when it runs in your family, you can definitely do something to reduce it. The first is to maintain an active lifestyle by getting regular exercise.
Exercise helps in strengthening your heart and improves your blood circulation. It can also lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and have a healthy weight which are all risk factors in having a cardiovascular disease.
Eating a balanced diet, avoiding bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking, and having enough sleep will also help you lower the risk. Making sure that getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day will help a lot. This is because bad sleeping habits equate to high blood pressure.
Managing stress is also a risk factor and there are still studies on the direct effects of stress versus heart problems.
Stress causes high levels of cortisol and adrenaline to be injected into our system. The high levels of these hormones can be a burden to your heart. When these hormones are activated, the heart needs more oxygen and energy to pump blood.
3. “Exercise is bad for someone who just had a heart attack.”
It is actually recommended by doctors to go on a physical activity plan after a heart attack to aid you in recovery and to avoid more heart problems to occur.
Doctors usually recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program after undergoing a hospital recovery. People are usually allowed to start on their regular, moderate physical activity a few weeks after a heart attack.
4. “Superfoods, vitamins, and other supplements may reduce heart attacks.”
There is no known food that is backed up by studies that help prevent heart diseases but certain diets can. Specific foods such as blueberries, walnuts, leafy vegetables, and fish help in maintaining a healthy heart but they cannot help in preventing a heart problem.
They have to be incorporated into a balanced diet and are recommended to be eaten as it is. There has been a study about the Mediterranean Diet that includes many fruits and vegetables, olive oil and moderate fat into their eating habit which actually lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Some vitamins and mineral supplements have also been associated with reducing the risk for heart disease. Supplements include vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, and B vitamins but take note that there have been no studies linking it in the prevention of the disease.
Vitamin E, for example, has even been noted to have increased effects to bleeding strokes. It is still highly recommended to take in vitamins naturally from a wholesome diet.
5. “I will feel the symptoms of having a high blood pressure before it strikes hard.”
High blood pressure or hypertension is not called the “silent killer” for nothing. Most people with hypertension do not have any signs or symptoms even if it reaches a high level. Typical symptoms such as headaches or shortness of breath are usually taken lightly and aren’t high blood pressure-specific.
The pressure builds in the arteries, over the long run, will cause health problems. Even without the symptoms, the damage on the arteries will continue undetected. This may lead to serious problems such as heart attack or stroke.
6. “Cholesterol-packed foods are okay to ingest as long as you are taking medications.”
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is not really bad because our body needs it to build cells. There are two sources of cholesterol; one is from liver production and the other is from the food we eat.
The problem lies when there is too much cholesterol in our body. Excess cholesterol forms a deposit inside the arteries making them narrow causing the heart to work harder.
Statins are a medicine group that lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood. If you are taking medications while still eating cholesterol-packed foods, it will render the drug ineffective.
7. “Diabetes medication will help in reducing the risk of heart diseases.”
Diabetes medication targets the smaller blood vessels in order to maintain the sugar levels in the body. This does not include the large blood vessels that also become swollen and damaged over time. The large blood vessels are mainly maintained by keeping the cholesterol levels and blood pressure at a healthy rate.
Diabetes and heart disease have coinciding risk factors so anyone taking diabetes medications is still at a risk of having a heart attack.
8. “The warning signs for an oncoming heart attack are very obvious like chest pains.”
This is not necessarily true as the symptoms vary in every person. Some would have mild to severe symptoms, while others will have no physical symptoms at all. Dangerously for some, a sudden cardiac arrest is already the first symptom.
Common symptoms include cold sweat, nausea, pressure or tightness in the chest or arms, fatigue, and sudden dizziness. Some attacks occur suddenly but most people have early warning signs even weeks in advance. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and warnings regarding heart diseases.
If you think you are experiencing some signs after evaluating your lifestyle, it is best to go to the doctor for further examination. The doctor will be able to evaluate your overall health by looking at your family history, pre-existing illnesses, lifestyle, and by administering some tests. Tests may include an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, CT scan, MRI, or nuclear stress test. Treatments usually include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery depending on the severity of the test results.
9. “Bypass surgery fixes the heart.”
Bypass surgery certainly relieves chest pains and blockages from the arteries but it does not mean that the cause is already gone. Atherosclerosis, the cause of the buildup of plaques in the arteries, should be addressed to prevent any further attacks. It is always recommended to have a heart-healthy lifestyle change after a bypass surgery combined with medication to correct the problem.
10. “Heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same.”
People often use them interchangeably but these two terms are different from each other. A cardiac arrest is where the heart suddenly stops beating because of an electrical malfunction in the heart.
In a matter of seconds, a person becomes unresponsive and would possibly be gasping for air or just stops breathing. Death would be immediate if the person does not receive any treatment within a few minutes after the arrest starts.
Heart attack is where there is a blockage in the vessels that prevents the blood flow to the heart. If the blocked artery is not opened, oxygen would not be able to reach the heart. This will eventually lead to that part of the heart affected by the artery to die away.
The symptoms of a heart attack vary from one person to another and would range from mild to very severe. Unlike cardiac arrest, the heart does not stop beating when under a heart attack.
The above 10 cardiovascular disease facts and common myths, in conclusion, can be said not to be overemphasized. There are more deaths caused by heart diseases as compared to other diseases.