Friday, November 13, 2020

The Biggest Myths People Tell You About Heart Disease

 

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Heart disease - not cancer - is the number one killer in the country, laying waste to around half a million people per year. And yet, compared to the big "C," we barely talk about it. The media will often gloss over it like it is not there. 


The dialogue around heart disease is a little strange because researchers already know how to treat the condition. It doesn't involve taking any expensive medications. It's as simple as eating a healthy diet and getting a modest amount of exercise throughout your life. 


Surgeons like Dr. Lindita Coku regularly have to perform operations on the heart. Often, the blood vessels supplying it get so clogged with fatty material that it impedes blood flow. Eventually, the machinery starts to break down, leading to conditions like angina. 


There are a lot of myths that people tell about heart disease. Here are some of the biggest. 


Myth #1: You Only Need To Worry About It When You Older


Not true - heart disease starts in children and then develops over the course of the rest of your life. Researchers know this because they performed autopsies on young American soldiers' bodies returning from the Korean War in the 1950s. When they opened them up to look inside, they noticed these yellow streaks on their arteries - the first heart disease stages. 


Myth #2: I'll Know If I Have A Heart Attack Because Of Chest Pain


Heart disease is a strange condition that can manifest in a variety of ways. While it is true that some people experience chest pain, it doesn't happen to everyone. For some, the first sign that something is wrong is shortness of breath and dizziness. Other people get painful sensations in their arms and legs. 


Myth #3: There Are Warning Signs For High Blood Pressure


High blood pressure is often called the "silent killer," meaning that many people who have the condition don't realize there's a problem until it's too late. 


Myth #4: Cholesterol Levels Don't Matter Until You're Old


Again, this myth is wishful thinking. Your cholesterol levels do matter at any age because heart disease typically begins when people are young. 


Ideally, your cholesterol should be below 160 mg/dL for the whole of your life. Whenever it starts to climb above this, you get the formation of plaques, and patients are at higher risk of developing it.


Some people can develop heart disease in their 30s and 40s if they have high cholesterol. Others have genetic conditions that predispose them to the condition. 


Myth #5: A Rapid Resting Heart Rate Means You're Having A Heart Attack


A person's resting heart rate should be around 60 beats per minute, give or take a few beats here and there. So when it starts thumping more rapidly, you can worry that you're having a heart attack. 


But that's not usually how it works. There are all sorts of other conditions that could lead to a quicker pulse, including anxiety. If you're worried, visit your doctor and check for arrhythmias. 


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