10 misconceptions about heart disease

Many people believe that heart disease only affects the elderly, but they can occur at any time in life. This is just one of the common myths.

Cardiovascular diseases are disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other conditions. It is estimated that around 17.5 million people worldwide die from cardiovascular disease each year, and this number could rise to 23 million by 2030.

According to TURKSTAT Death and Cause of Death Statistics 2019 data, circulatory system diseases ranked first among the causes of death with 36.8 percent. In 2019, approximately 157 thousand people died in Turkey due to cardiovascular diseases. Among the leading causes were heart attack and stroke.

heart disease


There are many misconceptions about heart diseases and these perceptions can sometimes prevent treatment.

Here are 10 misconceptions about heart disease:

Myth: Teens don’t need to worry about heart disease

It is true that heart disease is more common in people over the age of 65, but 4-10 percent of heart attacks occur in people younger than 45. In addition, the way we live our lives as children, adolescents and adults lays the foundations of heart health with age. Cardiovascular diseases are becoming more common in young people because of being an overweight, less physical activity, consumption of processed food is increasing.

For example, following a diet rich in trans and saturated fats or smoking gradually increases the risk of heart disease as you age. However, today’s lifestyle changes are laying the groundwork for an unhealthy heart in later life.

Myth 2: Those with heart disease should avoid exercise

Exercise helps strengthen the heart muscle and improve blood flow throughout the body. In August 2020, the European Society of Cardiology published guidelines on exercise in patients with cardiovascular disease. The experts involved in creating the guidelines explain: The risk of exercise causing heart failure or heart attack is extremely small.

However, those who are completely inactive and have advanced heart disease should consult their doctor before doing sports.

Myth 3: People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs can eat whatever they want

Some medications, such as statins, lower blood cholesterol levels. However, this does not mean that a person taking statins can consume foods containing saturated fat. Cholesterol is either consumed with the foods you eat or produced in the liver. Statins lower total blood cholesterol levels by blocking an enzyme needed for cholesterol production in the liver.

However, this means that ingested cholesterol can still enter the bloodstream. In short, even with the use of statins, an unhealthy diet will increase the risk of elevated cholesterol as well as other independent risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

Myth #4: If you have a family history of heart disease, there is nothing you can do to stop it.

If close family members have heart disease, this may mean your risk is increased. However, there are many ways to reduce the risk, even for people with a genetic predisposition. These include a healthy diet, smoking cessation, blood pressure control and regular exercise.

It is also worth noting that if there is a family history of heart disease, it may not be a sign of genetic predisposition. Families tend to share lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise habits, both of which can affect heart disease risk.

Myth 5: Vitamins may prevent heart disease

While most vitamins at recommended doses are unlikely to be bad for heart health, there is no evidence that taking any vitamin supplement can reduce the risk of heart disease. And they certainly cannot replace a healthy diet and regular exercise.

For example, many reviews and analyzes have looked for an association between multivitamin and mineral supplements and a range of cardiovascular outcomes, including coronary heart disease and stroke. The analysis, published in 2018, drew data from 18 existing studies, including 2 million participants.

The authors concluded that supplementing with multivitamins and minerals did not improve cardiovascular outcomes in the general population. There are no shortcuts when it comes to nutrition, supplements are no substitute for healthy foods.

Myth 6: If you’ve been smoking for years, there’s no point in quitting now

Another common myth. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. The health benefits begin as soon as a person quits smoking. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting at any time will improve your health. When you quit, you have a great chance of adding years to your life, breathing easier, having more energy and saving money.

Also, remember that you will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke and have better blood circulation.

Myth 7: Heart disease affects men more often

This is a huge myth because heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. It is a common misconception that only men are affected by heart disease. It is true that men develop cardiovascular disease at an earlier age than women and have a higher risk of coronary heart disease.

However, women also have a very high risk of having a stroke. Studies show that although the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women is generally lower than in men, women have a higher mortality rate and have a worse recovery period after cardiovascular events.

Myth 8: Heart failure and heart attack are the same things

Heart attack and heart failure are not the same things. A heart attack is a circulation problem. This happens when the coronary artery that carries blood to the heart muscle is blocked. Heart failure is a problem where the heart stops pumping blood efficiently throughout the body. Heart failure is usually caused by a heart attack. However, both conditions require immediate medical attention.

Myth #9: Coughing during a heart attack could save your life

According to some sources, a strong cough during a heart attack can save life, but this is one of the biggest myths. This is an online spoof of a scientific article published more than 40 years ago that showed patients who had a heart attack during hospital arteriography and coughed every 1-3 seconds remained conscious for an additional 39 seconds. There is no public evidence that this technique works for heart attacks that were not caused by medical procedures.

The absolute priority when you think you or someone else is having a heart attack is to call the emergency services. In this way, the paramedics can assess the situation and help you, and you can reach the hospital as soon as possible.

Myth 10: People with heart disease should avoid all oils

People with cardiovascular disease should strictly reduce saturated fats found in foods such as butter, biscuits, bacon and sausages, and partially hydrogenated and trans fats found in convenience foods. But unsaturated fats can provide benefits.

For example, there is evidence that omega 3, a polyunsaturated fat, may protect heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults eat fatty fish at least twice a week. Fish is a good source of protein and low in saturated fat. Fish, especially fatty species such as mackerel, trout, sardines, tuna and salmon, provide significant amounts of two types of omega 3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) that have been shown to be heart-friendly.

In addition, plant-derived omega 3 fatty acids can be consumed. Walnuts and flaxseed oil also contain good amounts of omega 3.

Back to top button