Heart disease serves as one of America’s most prolific killers. Annually, one in every four Americans' deaths come from heart disease, representing over 600,000 deaths per year.
Despite the prevalence of heart disease, people still misunderstand the condition and spread dangerous myths about its onset and effects.
Busting these myths could save lives by helping people better understand how to prevent and treat heart disease. That means fewer people suffering from this dangerous condition needing inpatient and outpatient care services.
Most people think of fat in food as a single substance. In actuality, we find four different types of fat in food. Some even benefit a heart-healthy diet.
We advise our patients and clients to reduce or avoid altogether trans fats, most often found in baked and processed foods.
Unsaturated fats, such as those found in avocado, fish oil, and many nuts, boost heart health.
When our patients ask which food will prevent a heart attack, we answer "none." No single food provides a magic bullet that will prevent heart disease. A number of different variables unique to each person can trigger heart disease and no single food prevents it.
We recommend a diet plan that focuses on whole grains, unsaturated fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. An example of this, the Mediterranean Diet, lowers the risk of heart disease and heart-related deaths.
Though long term smoking creates a cumulative effect in the lungs, most see significant improvements once they stop smoking.
In most cases, those who stop smoking entirely see the threat to their heart health drop by as much as 50 percent within one year. Negative effects on the heart from smoking dissipate shortly after quitting and improve substantially over time.
Although conventional wisdom often indicates otherwise, heart disease does not happen only to men. In fact, heart disease kills more women than breast cancer.
More women after age 65 die from heart disease than from any other cause.
Unlike heart attacks, hypertension kills silently. You do feel spikes in blood pressure, such as during and after strenuous exercise. Constant high blood pressure, however, produces few, if any, physical signs.
High blood pressure over time weakens the lining of blood vessels, especially in the brain. When these vessels burst, they can cause strokes. Similarly, it often damages vessels connected to the heart, causing disease there as well.
Many people mistakenly believe that heart disease only runs in families. This most dangerous of the heart disease myths causes individuals to develop a false sense of security. Many variables add up to heart disease, with genetics as only one.
Even if your family history has no heart disease in it, a diet high in saturated fats, a lack of exercise, and constant overindulgence in cigarettes and alcohol elevate your risk of having a heart attack.
Some studies indicate that a moderate consumption of alcohol helps to prevent heart attacks. Moderate drinking, to the medical community, equals no more than 1-2 drinks a day for men, and no more than 1 drink a day for women. That equals one beer, one shot of liquor, or one glass of wine.
Also, many alcoholic beverages contain high levels of sugars that can reduce the benefit of small amounts of alcohol. We recommend dry red wine, but advise against drinking beer or cocktails for heart health benefits.
Heart health need not mystify or frighten. When you learn the facts, you can develop a life plan to improve your chances of keeping a healthy heart.
Learn more about cardiovascular health from the experts at Champion Heart and Vascular Center.