Myth Busters That Could Save Your Life

You might know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but do you really know what heart disease is? The truth is, there are a lot of myths surrounding heart disease, starting with what it is. Let’s look at some of those myths … and some ways to avoid the hard truths behind those myths.

First of all, while we tend to talk about it as a single thing, “heart disease” actually covers a lot of ailments, from heart attack and stroke to heart failure and vein problems. Ironically, these many ailments tend to be related to a single problem: atherosclerosis, which is the medical term for the build-up of plaque in the walls of arteries.

Of course, using the wrong term for heart disease is hardly life threatening, but embracing other heart disease myths could be, because that might prevent you from getting help when you need it or from addressing problems before they get serious. As a test, review the following statements and consider whether you’ve ever said:

  • “I’m too young to have heart disease.”
  • “It can’t be heart disease. I’d have warning signs.”
  • “It’s not a heart attack. My chest doesn’t hurt.”
  • “My diabetes won’t hurt my heart as long as I take my meds.”
  • “I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m older.”

There’s one more myth that might be the worst of all: “If you’ve got heart disease or it runs in your family, there’s nothing you can do about it.” In fact, the New York Times has offered the following list of things anyone can do to improve their heart health and avoid heart disease:

  • Exercise
  • Eat right
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Know your blood sugar
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke

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