Heart Disease Myths & Facts by Dr. Ashish Dolas
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in humans nowadays. By changing lifestyle and food habits, we can prevent it at least to some extent.
There are loads of misunderstandings about heart disease. Also, beliefs in these outdated opinions can increase the risk. Dr. Ashish Dolas, the Best Cardiac Surgeon in Pune had given some basic knowledge about heart disease.
Some Basic Myths and Facts about Heart Disease
Myth No. 1: Old age people suffer from heart disease.
Fact: One’s lifestyle decides the risk of heart disease. An unhealthy lifestyle can cause the growth of plaque in arteries that later leads to blocked arteries. Now that obesity, diabetes and other risk factors are becoming common in younger age groups. It is not only popular and restricted to senior citizens. Many times heart disease develops silently, even in those who are fit. The recommendation is to undergo health check-ups periodically and be aware of the signs and symptoms of heart disease.
Myth No. 2: Heart Disease affects men more than women
Fact: It is a misunderstanding that heart disease is more common among men rather than women. Generally, people think that women’s greatest health risk is cancer; however, heart disease is in number one in both men and women. Women before menopause are certainly shielded by estrogen but later the risk becomes more or less equal. Whether you are a man or woman, get your baseline heart examination done which includes checking your cholesterol, blood pressure, ECG etc. This will ensure the risk parameters are under control or not.
Myth No. 3: Fats are bad for your heart
Fact: Fats are macronutrients and there are various kinds of fats that are found in our meals. Not all of them are bad for health.
- Trans Fats: Trans fats are the worst among all fats. Trans fats are generally found in many baked and processed foods and it increases our harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Trans fats are also responsible for heart disease, stroke, diabetes etc.
- Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are found in red meat, butter, coconut oil etc. Saturated fat increases your good cholesterol (HDL) and also increases the level of bad cholesterol (LDL). Hence, people with certain health issues should restrict the intake of saturated fat and consult the doctor.
- Polyunsaturated Fats: Polyunsaturated fats reduce your LDL levels. Sunflower oil, flaxseeds, salmon fish are a few examples of polyunsaturated fats.
- Monounsaturated Fats: Monounsaturated fats are good fats found in olive oil, avocados, peanut oil etc. Replacing saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will help you in reducing your LDL levels.
Myth No. 4: Heart disease is genetic, so I can’t do anything to prevent it
Fact: In today’s hectic life even people who do not have a record or history of heart disease are diagnosed with it. However, when you have a family history of heart disease you are more at risk. But you can always take action to reduce the risk. Certain actions need to be initiated by all to bypass heart disease like not smoking or drinking alcohol, exercising regularly, controlling sugar and cholesterol levels and going for preventive health check-ups.
Myth No. 5: I am taking cholesterol-lowering medications, so I can eat anything
Fact: Medicines that decrease the cholesterol level give a false sense of security when it comes to food choices that it will undo any cholesterol overload, regardless of what you eat. Even while you are on cholesterol medicines, you have to watch what you are eating. Follow your diet plan as advised by your doctor, so that your prescription can do their job.
Myth No. 6: I can minimise the risk of heart disease by taking vitamins and supplements
Fact: Multi-vitamins and minerals serve as nutritional aids and not as a means of prevention from mild illnesses like heart disease. They cannot prevent the development of heart disease if you don’t control your risk factors for heart disease like eating unhealthy food, obesity, smoking etc. Though, it is very important to take your prescribed medication, changing lifestyle is critical.
Myth No. 7: If I have heart disease, I cannot exercise anymore
Fact: Regular exercise is necessary, especially if you are suffering from heart disease. Regular exercise strengthens your heart muscles, manages your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To ensure that which exercise is safe for you, we suggest speaking to your doctor before the start. You can also consult a physical therapist for developing a balanced exercise plan. It is also important to pay attention to the warning signs like chest pain, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea etc. If they arise while you exercise, then bring it to your doctor’s notice.
Myth No. 8: I will know if I am having high blood pressure
Fact: High blood pressure is a silent killer, you may not even realise that you are having it. The only way to know that you are having high blood pressure is by measuring it. In the case of extremely high blood pressure, you might feel severe headache, chest pain, fatigue etc. Untreated hypertension can lead to serious health issues including stroke, heart disease, kidney failure etc.
Myth No. 9: Heart failure means that my heart will stop beating
Fact: The heart stops beating during cardiac arrest. However, in the case of heart failure, the heart keeps functioning but fails to pump enough blood. Heart failure can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles, persistent coughing and wheezing. In contrast, if it is cardiac arrest, you will lose consciousness and stop breathing.
Myth No. 10: Stenting is safer than bypass surgery
Fact: Stenting is no doubt less invasive than bypass surgery and one could recover faster. Coronary artery bypass grafting is major surgery and when done by an experienced cardiac surgeon, the risks are low. It is safe. Your doctor will be the best judge to choose the best suitable treatment option for you.