Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in India with heart attacks being accountable for one third of all deaths caused by heart diseases. Many of them have misconceptions about heart disease. Here are some myths and facts about heart disease.
MYTH 1. I should not worry about heart diseases until I am middle aged
Fact: Age of diagnosis of heart diseases and occurrence of heart attacks is coming down very rapidly. People in their 30s are now facing variety of heart diseases like high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids due to rapid lifestyle transition. Risk factors in young such as obesity, diabetes, sedentary work style, odd working hours, inadequate sleep, junk food consumption, smoking etc. are putting them on the verge of life threatening heart ailments. Thus there is no age bar!
MYTH 2. Heart diseases affect men. Women are naturally protected.
Fact: Heart diseases can affect women of all ages, though they are somewhat protected against heart diseases until their menopause (due to protective hormones). After menopause, women carry equal risk. Women with family history of heart diseases bear high risk. Smoking, birth control pills in young women increase their heart disease risk by almost 20-25%.
MYTH 3. Heart diseases are hereditary thus cannot be prevented & I am safe if I do not have family history of heart diseases.
Fact: People with family history of heart diseases are at higher risk but heart diseases can be prevented if healthy lifestyle techniques are adopted. Healthy diet, active lifestyle, cessation of smoking and stress management are the keys to heart disease prevention. Achieving and maintaining ideal body weight should be the ultimate goal.
Absence of family history is not sufficient to safeguard one against heart diseases! Presence of any other risk factor is equally bad!! All other risk factors should be tackled in order to prevent heart diseases.
MYTH 4. I will know if I have heart problem because I’ll face symptoms like chest pain etc.
Fact: Heart disease is known as a ‘silent killer’ as majority of times it bangs without any symptoms. About one third people who face heart attack do not feel chest pain. Therefore it’s not a wise idea to wait for the signs! Regular monitoring of blood pressure, lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides etc.) is the only way to assure existence/ absence of these diseases. It enables one to treat the condition early and prevent complications.
MYTH 5. One should avoid exercise after having heart attack.
Fact: Definitely NOT! Physical activity helps recovery and stops progression / recurrence of heart diseases. With a prior consultation of doctors, physical activity can be initiated soon after occurrence of a heart attack. Usually 150 minutes per week of moderately intense activity is recommended. Heart attack survivors who remain active, live longer & healthier!