Heart Disease Myths

Facts on Heart Disease and Heart Myths…Busted

Heard the old rhyme about “words can never hurt me?” Don’t you believe it! Buying into these myths about heart disease can do worse than that!

Read on as Phoebe Heart Center in Albany, Georgia, provides facts on heart disease and busts six of the most dangerous myths about the heart.

 Myth: Women don't have heart attacks 

This may be the single most dangerous -- and potentially tragic -- misconception. Most women believe that breast cancer is the greatest threat to their health.

The facts: 

  • Heart disease is by far the leading cause of death among American women.
  • Heart disease kills twice as many women as all forms of cancer combined.
  • Heart disease will kill half a million women this year, most of them because they didn't know the signs or weren't aware of their risk factors.

Myth: Heart attacks are random events. When your number's up ... it's up

There's nothing random about a heart attack. A heart attack is the final step in a process that has been going on for a long time, as fatty deposits build up in the arteries supplying blood to the heart. This process takes time, usually many years, and is a result of diet and lifestyle. When the deposits finally cut off blood supply to a part of the heart, that's what we call a heart attack. The patient who has a heart attack today didn't have normal arteries last week.

Myth: Heart attacks are for old people

Another tragic misconception. Heart disease can start at an early age, especially with today's fat-laden diets. Doctors today are seeing artery blockages in people as young as their 20's or even teens, and more heart attacks than ever in people in their 30's. That's why getting your cholesterol checked is so important. The good news? Eating better, exercising and not smoking can make a dramatic difference in your risk factors at any age.

Myth: Thin people don't get high cholesterol or have heart attacks

Although it's true that obesity and a fatty diet are strong risk factors for high cholesterol and subsequent clogged arteries, other factors such as heredity can still put you at risk. Thin people who eat right and exercise can still have the problems that lead to a heart attack. Regular check-ups and monitoring your cholesterol level is a good idea no matter what shape you're in.

Myth: Smoking causes cancer, but not heart attacks

As if you needed another reason to stop smoking. By now, most people realize that smoking is a major cause of several cancers, but the fact is, it's also one of the most important factors in the development of blocked arteries. But here's a cause that you can address immediately. Quitting smoking immediately slows down the development of blockages, and your risk factors for both heart disease and cancer start dropping from the day you quit.

Myth: This pain can't be a heart problem; it's not severe enough

This dangerous myth is one reason why half of the people who have their first heart attack die at home or before they ever get to the emergency room. Too many people still think of a heart attack as a victim clutching their chest and falling over dead. In fact, many heart attacks start slowly and can last for hours or even days. The emergency center doctors at Phoebe see far too many people who have been treating their heart attack all weekend long with Rolaids or Maalox, when in fact they were having a very serious heat attack. The fact is, when you have the signs of a heart attack, your heart is telling you to get moving. Today's medicine can save the lives of 95% of heart attack victims who get to the emergency center early.

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