“The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” Mark Twain’s words are so aptly relatable to various myths around heart conditions. Thanks to information overload, or sometimes misinformation as well! From mistaking simple symptoms like a chest pain (which can occur during a panic attack and a heart attack as well) to say soreness in the left arm indicative of a possible cardiac arrest or an underlying subtle condition; how aware or educated are we of the facts in reality?
At this backdrop, if you are confused between the ‘fact and fiction’ information about your heart health, lets debunk the common myths around heart diseases to help you manage your “matters of the heart” a bit better!
MYTH 1: Being Physically Fit Won’t Lead To A Heart Condition
Physical exercises have multifold health benefits that may outweigh the risk of say a heart attack but this isn’t written in stone! Developing certain heart conditions could be due to factors like family history, high cholesterol, or elevated blood pressure, as these often occur without any warning symptoms irrespective of your fitness. A well chalked out exercise plan by you and your doctors can help you lead a healthy life but a regular check-up is a must for all.
MYTH 2: Heart Disease Is A Matter Of Old Age
The Registrar General of India reports that due to coronary heart disease 32% of adults died between 2010 -2013. The report also states that 40% of people below 55 years of age got a heart attack, out of which 50% got their first warning signs before hitting the grey-haired years! So, it’s not exactly a matter of old age. A couple of years ago, a young and famous athlete had a heart attack but displayed symptoms of back pain. His routine tests revealed that he had several clogged coronary arteries, despite his active lifestyle. Bottom-line; the risk of heart disease may increases as you grow old but if you think that you’re too young to have a heart problem then time to think twice!
MYTH 3: Heart Failure Is The Same As Cardiac Arrest
People have often mistaken between the two. A cardiac arrest (in most individuals) occurs due to a heart attack; a dangerous heart rhythm. During a cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops beating and an individual loses consciousness. On the other hand, heart failure occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. While the heart keeps working, this may cause shortness of breath and persistent coughing and wheezing. This is a gradual onset unlike the prior that is sudden.
MYTH 4: Statins Are Often Dangerous For The Heart
Statins are among the safest medication prescribed for lowering cholesterol levels; it stabilizes the plaque that narrows coronary arteries and thereby, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke by 25% to 30% when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Like all other medications, statins also have some side effects, such as muscle pain or aches but serious side effects are rare.
Statin therapy lies in deciding what is a greater risk – whether the advantages outweigh the potential risks as statins have scientifically been proved to be safe and effective in preventing heart disease.
MYTH 5: During A Heart Attack, Coughing Vigorously Could Save Your Life
There is no medical evidence that supports this statement. Most patients that go into a cardiac arrest have a more chaotic rhythm. Chaotic rhythms are what prove the method –“cough CPR” false. Simply coughing will not always correct an irregular chaotic rhythm, and it cannot prevent the patient from going into cardiac arrest. If you or someone else is properly trained then it is better to start a proper CPR and, if available, use an automatic external defibrillator (AED) instead of coughing vigorously.
MYTH 6: No Symptoms, No Worry
Haven’t we heard many people harp that, “I have no symptoms of any diseases and I’m leading a perfectly good life so why should I worry?” Well, it’s great if you don’t have symptoms but that does not negate the fact that you may still have an underlying heart condition that is just waiting to creep up! Research states that more than 64% of women who died out of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Alarming, isn’t it?
Experiencing – shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, and extreme fatigue? Consult a cardiologist immediately.
MYTH 7: Leg Pain Is Often A Wake-Up Call For CVDs
Most leg aches are musculoskeletal or associated with our nervous system, some could be indicative of an early warning sign of a heart attack or stroke. When you experience painful cramping in your legs, numbness or weakness, coldness in your lower foot or leg after walking even short distances or climbing stairs, then it might be the sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This is caused by the
plaque build-up in legs those blocks arteries often leading to a risky heart condition. It’s best to not take any chances and consult your physician and don’t self-diagnose!
MYTH 8: Heart Disease Is A Women’s Issue
As per Harvard Health, each year, about 425,000 women have a stroke—55,000 more than men. Heart disease is usually thought to be a women’s problem but that’s not entirely true, as it is the leading cause of death for both men and women in India. Men generally develop CVD at a younger age and have a higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) than women. Women, in contrast, are at a higher risk of stroke, which often occurs at an older age.
MYTH 9: Hypertension Is A Normal Thing Post 50
Blood pressure tends to rise as our artery walls stiffen with age. It forces the heart to pump harder which further damages the arteries and invites fats into the artery walls thereby, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. But high blood pressure is not the only reason for hypertension. Other factors such as sleep apnoea, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and certain medical conditions can also be responsible for it so it’s not exactly a normal thing or as common as it is said to be. The American Heart Association reports that the
lifetime risks of hypertension from 20 to 85 years of age are between 69 – 86% so 50 may not be the magical number here!
MYTH 10: Multivitamins And Supplements Are Heart-Healthy
As per the American Heart Association, there is no scientific evidence that shows that any supplements can prevent or treat a cardiovascular disorder. However, vitamins such as C, E, and beta-carotene may help reduce the risk of heart disease if you control other risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes. A healthy balanced diet can do you good for this!
Knowledge is power and when your heart is on the line. So, try not to believe the myths and misconceptions around it, blindly. For more such interesting information check out our pages on www.icardin.com or speak to our cardiologist on +91 8010139903.
Our patients – Our Pride!