Published 1:44 am, Monday, April 16, 2018
There is a lot of good information now available that is helpful in learning the causes, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular issues. Heart disease is the most common killer of Americans men and women. Between 2009 and 2013, 610,000 Americans died from heart attacks. Every year, 710,000 people in the United States have a heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knowing the facts is critical to your health.
Many myths also are spread online and in conversation about heart health that can be detrimental if believed. For instance, some assume that the heart stops beating when heart failure occurs. Cardiac arrest does mean the heart stops but with heart failure, it continues to beat, just not at a rate strong enough to pump blood properly.
The correct facts about heart health are essential in helping you make choices on how you should live, what you should eat and even the amount of rest that you should get. Separating the facts from the myths about cardiovascular health is very important.
The myths verses the truth
Among the most common myths regarding heart attacks is that one can be too young to have one. In fact, plaque that accumulates in arteries can begin early in life.
It is the plaque buildup that causes clogged arteries and leads to heart attacks, stroke or hypertension (high blood pressure). The American Heart Association recommends that after age 20, cholesterol should be checked every five years. Additionally, obesity contributes to cardiovascular issues in younger people. Not only do heart issues appear sooner in overweight young people, but it means they will spend more of their lives dealing with them.
Another common misbelief about heart disease is that people assume they can tell if they have high blood pressure. Hypertension can have no symptoms at all and the same holds true for high cholesterol levels. The only way to know for sure is to have blood pressure and cholesterol tested. This could prevent a heart attack or a stroke.
Family medical history that includes heart disease does not mean that someone can't take measures to prevent it in themselves, as some believe. People may look at their parents' or grandparents' health and assume that because there were cardiovascular problems in the previous generation, they can't do anything to lessen their own chances of a heart attack or stroke. The truth is that healthy living, including proper diet, exercise and rest, go a long way in preventing warding off heart issues, no matter what family history indicates.
After having a heart attack, some believe that exercise can be harmful. Proper exercise and physical rehabilitation is actually recommended and is beneficial in several ways. It strengthens the body, including the heart, can help in weight control and keep blood pressure at optimum levels.
Many don't realize that while heart issues are indiscriminate among the sexes, the symptoms are not always the same. Women may experience unusual fatigue, shortness of breath or abnormal sleep before a heart attack. This is especially true among younger women and these symptoms don't always occur in men.
Another myth is that muscular pain in the leg is a sign of aging. It can mean that peripheral artery disease (PAD) is present. Plaque buildup in the arteries in the leg causes blood flow issues that increase the probability of heart attack or stroke.
Know the real signs
It is important to know the signs of a heart attack and to get help as soon as possible. The symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and discomfort in the upper body.
Nausea or light-headedness may also be a sign of a cardiovascular issue. Use common sense about lifestyle choices, diet, exercise and rest to help prevent the probability of a heart attack. If you notice changes in the way you feel, consult your physician and your cardiologist.
Dr. Omar P. Haqqani is the chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland: www.vascularhealthclinics.org.