How much do you really know about your heart’s health? It’s easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth – that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?
Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. But you can boost your heart smarts by separating fact from fiction. Let’s set the record straight on some common myths.
- “I’m too young to worry about heart disease.”How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
- “I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.”
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems.
- “I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.” Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-9-9 immediately.
- “Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.”Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. These overlapping include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking. If you are overweight, talk to us about our weight loss program and how to drop up to a pound per day.
- “Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.”Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; don’t worry about your cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.
- “I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.”The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked every 5 years starting at age 20. What I’m about to tell you will blow your mind? They’ll tell you it’s a good idea to start having a cholesterol test even earlier if your family have a history of heart disease. That’s wrong! You can help yourself and your family by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. The standard for cholesterol used to be 240. Now it’s 200 and if they can they’ll drop it lower than that. The real reason? To sell more statin drugs. Big Pharma is behind all of this and they want to continue making billions of dollars telling you lies. Stop worrying about your cholesterol. Eat butter, stop eating margarine, drink lots of good water and remember that your liver produces cholesterol and every cell in your body needs cholesterol. I know this is different than anything you’ve read, but it’s the truth.
- “Heart failure means the heart stops beating.”The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.
- “This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.”Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. It can also be a lack of calcium and magnesium. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases for people with PAD, but you need to find out if it’s PAD or a nutritional problem.
- “My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.”Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment. When you’re in the office and you want to have your blood pressure checked, let us know. We’d be more than happy to do this for you. Take your heart health seriously and remember that your heart is told what to do by your nervous system and that’s why you want your spine checked regularly.