Fact or Fiction: Heart Health Edition

With a quick Google search, you’ll instantly find that there is a lot of misinformation about heart health out there. How can you tell the difference between fact and fiction? The medical professionals at NorthCrest are here to help you decipher the validity of five common statements regarding heart disease.

Heart disease affects men and women the same.

Fiction. While it’s true that women and men share many similar factors of heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, they experience many differences as well. However, there are several diseases that only affect women such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary disease (PCOS), and high blood pressure and obesity that can occur during pregnancy. Adversely, men are at a higher risk of heart attacks at a much younger age than women. When compared between the two, women typically experience subtler heart attack symptoms for a longer period of time, while men may experience sudden onset chest pain. 

Heart disease only affects older people.

Fiction. While it may be statistically true that heart disease affects the older population more, young people are still susceptible to cardiovascular complications as well. Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. In fact, there are many factors that contribute to heart disease such as genetics or unhealthy lifestyle choices that can affect a person of any age.

You should avoid exercise after a heart attack.

Fiction. Surprisingly, many doctors may recommend moderate-intensity exercise to patients in the time following a heart attack. In fact, according to the Heart Foundation, exercise not only helps your heart recover, but it also reduces the risk of future complications. However, before beginning an exercise routine, talk to your doctor about a plan that’s right for you. Often after a heart attack, a provider may refer a patient for cardiac rehabilitation, similar to our Cardiac Rehabilitation program, which includes patient education and exercise. This helps the patient improve their heart health and regain independence in a safe, monitored environment.

Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and inactivity put you at a higher risk for heart disease.

Fact. The FDA reports that excessive cigarette smoke exposes your lungs and blood to harmful chemicals that damage the heart and blood vessels and often result in cardiovascular disease. Excessive alcohol consumption is also linked to many heart problems such as high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrhythmia. However, according to the American Heart Association, alcohol in moderation is acceptable. Another contributor to heart complications is extended periods of physical inactivity. The AHA states that “people who enjoy regular physical activity have lower death rates than people who have no risk factors but who aren’t physically active.”

You can spot the symptoms of an unhealthy heart.

Fiction. Many symptoms of heart disease go unannounced. High blood pressure is often referred to as a “silent killer” because many patients never know they have it. Symptoms of a heart attack can also differ from patient to patient. While some patients may experience more noticeable symptoms like chest pain, others may experience more subtle symptoms such as shortness of breath or nausea. 

Are you concerned about your heart health? NorthCrest’s distinguished team of heart and vascular experts are experienced in the most advanced diagnostic techniques in surgical, interventional and treatment procedures. Visit our website or give us a call at (615) 384-2411 to learn more.