Knowing that each year heart attacks kill more people than cancers, many people are adopting a heart healthy lifestyle. But, some myths about heart health remain. Cleveland Clinic has an in-depth post about heart health myths. Here are the myths with a little added research.
Myth 1: You only get heart disease if it runs in your family.
90% of heart disease is a result of poor lifestyle choices. (poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking)
Myth 2: Having good cholesterol can offset bad cholesterol.
Physicians used to focus on overall cholesterol, but further research has divided cholesterol into good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. Now they focus on bad (LDL) cholesterol. Although high HDL is good, it will not offset a high LDL cholesterol.
Myth 3: You can lower high LDL (bad cholesterol) with diet alone.
If your LDL is high, you will need a statin or other cholesterol lowering drug to bring it down. That’s because your liver makes 75% of the cholesterol in your body and diet is only responsible for 25%.
Myth 4: If you have high blood pressure, you will be able to feel it.
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” for a reason. Hypertension comes with no symptoms.
Myth 5: Fats are bad for your heart.
There are four types of fats. There are good and bad fats for your heart.
The worse fats are artificial trans fats and saturated fats. They are found in foods such as; commercially baked cookies and cakes, packaged snacks (crackers and chips), stick margarine and shortening, and fried foods. Anything that contains hydrogenated or partially hydronated vegetable oil, even if it claims to be “trans fat-free”
Saturated fat, while not as harmful can still raise your LDL cholesterol. These fats should be consumed in moderation. Saturated fats include red meat, chicken skin, whole dairy products (milk and cheese), butter, ice cream, lard and tropical oils such as coconut and palm.
Healthy or “good” fats are monounsaturated fats that can be found in olive, canola, peanut and sesame oils as well as avocados, olives and nuts. The other “good” fats are polyunsaturated fats. Good sources for polyunsaturated fats are fatty fish (salmon, tuna), soybean and safflower oils, soymilk and tofu.
Myth 6: Some “superfoods” will prevent heart disease.
No food will prevent heart disease, however a healthy diet can.
Myth 7: Two to three house of vigorous exercise per week will ensure heart health.
To lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease, you need five to six sessions of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.
Myth 8: Bypass surgery and stenting will cure coronary artery disease.
While bypass and stenting can help prevent first or second heart attack and make you feel better, it does not cure coronary artery disease.
Myth 9: Stenting is safer than bypass surgery.
There is no doubt that stenting is less invasive, but both are very safe surgeries. The operative risk for bypass surgery is less than 1%.
Myth 10: Women don’t need to worry about heart disease.
More women die each year from heart disease than from breast cancer. Women should have a complete head-to-toe checkup with baseline heart exams early in adulthood. This allows for identification of risk factors to be identified and discussed before they impact the heart. After menopause, the risk factor for women levels out to the same as men. The good news is that due to earlier recognition of risk factors, the chance that a women will survive a heart attack has increased by 56%!
A healthy lifestyle will take care of your heart and allow you to enjoy a longer healthier life. For more information on myths about heart health and additional information on keeping your heart healthy, visit ccf.org/loveyourheart.