Being the leading cause of death among both American men and women, heart disease has received its fair share of attention and public education to help reduce risk. More and more, Americans are learning the importance of regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and avoiding habits such as smoking. Still, despite heightened awareness, there remain certain misconceptions that surround heart disease and the healthy choices patients should be making. At Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we like to clear up these myths whenever possible to ensure that our patients are armed with the most effective and accurate information possible. With that in mind, let’s review just four of the more common heart disease myths we often hear.
Myth 1: Quitting Smoking Won’t Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
When it comes to smoking, many assume that once the damage is done, it’s done and nothing can be done to reverse it. In reality, the opposite is true. The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and while it may take time, this includes reversing most of the damage done by smoking. In fact, within one year of quitting, the risk of coronary artery disease is reduced by half, and stroke risk is the same as that of a non-smoker after 5 years. So, no matter how long you’ve been smoking, the sooner you kick the habit, the sooner your body can begin to heal.
Myth 2: Heart Disease is a Bigger Problem for Men than Women
This is perhaps the largest misconception surrounding heart disease and one in which much effort has gone to change. For a very long time, much of the research and educational efforts surrounding heart disease centered on men. However, more women than men die from the disease every year, and it is the leading cause of death in all women over the age of 65.
Myth 3: You Should Avoid All Fat in Your Diet to Protect Against Heart Disease
Fat has gotten a bad reputation over the past several years, but its really just a couple of specific fats giving the whole group a bad name. Your body actually needs and thrives on the inclusion of healthy fats in your diet. These include unsaturated fats found in sources like vegetable oils and omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as fish. The types of fat that it is important to limit in your diet to sustain heart health are trans fats, saturated fats, and partially hydrogenated fat.
Myth 4: Taking Medication for Your Chronic Illness Will Protect Against Heart Disease
Many patients believe that just because they are taking a prescription medication to help control their diabetes, blood pressure, or cholesterol, their heart will be protected. In reality, suffering from any one of these conditions and having to rely on medication to control them places your heart at a greater than average risk. The goal in these situations should be to make as many healthy lifestyle modifications as possible to reduce or even eliminate the need to rely on prescription drugs.
At Cardiovascular Institute of the South, our goal is always to help raise awareness to help our patients live their healthiest life possible. To learn more about steps you can take to protect your own heart, or to consult with a skilled cardiologist, click the button below to request an appointment.