Home | Articles | Debunking Heart Disease Myths

By Dr Chetan Jain
Consultant Interventional Cardiologist
Published on 17/11/2022

Health issues due to coronary artery disease are decreasing as more people are adopting heart-healthy lifestyles and taking medications to reduce their risk of heart attacks. But still heart disease myths do exist.

Heart disorders are the subject of numerous misconceptions. However, even after a diagnosis of a Heart Disease, one can contribute to improving health or prevent heart failure with the right Treatment and lifestyle Modifications. Let's correct some of the common misconceptions related to heart diseases. Listed below are the most common myths about heart failure:

Myth 1: Heart disease can only be developed if it runs in the family.

Fact: Coronary artery disease might develop due to genetic factors. However, 90% of heart disease is caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices such as junk foods, smoking, little or no exercise, etc.

These unhealthy decisions can raise blood cholesterol and other hazardous risk factors, raised blood pressure, developing metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes, all of which increase the risk of heart disease.

Myth 2: The risk of heart disease can be minimized by taking vitamins and supplements

Fact: Multivitamins and minerals are dietary supplements, not a means of preventing major diseases such as heart ailments. These cannot prevent the development disease unless one reduces the risk factors such as eating unhealthy foods, being obese, smoking, etc. While it is vital to take the prescribed medications, changing the lifestyle is also critical.

Myth 3: 2 to 3 hours of vigorous exercise per week can ensure heart health.

Fact: Five or six sessions of moderate to intense activity each week are required to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and cancer. Any action will improve the heart; the more you do, the more you benefit. Being an enthusiastic exerciser or even a weekend warrior is optional to benefit from increased activity.

Aim for 30 minutes of activity every day, divided into 10- to 15-minute periods, and the heart will thank you.

Myth 4: Fats are bad for the heart

Fact: Our foods contain four different types of fats, and not all are harmful. The worst are trans fats created artificially, often known as partially hydrogenated oils.

Trans fats commonly present in baked products and processed foods elevate poor LDL cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are also harmful in animal products such as red meat and butter.

Myth 5: Having heart disease, I cannot exercise anymore

Fact: Regular exercise is essential, especially if you have heart disease. Exercise helps to strengthen the heart muscles and control blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Before beginning any workout, we recommend you consult the doctor to ensure it is safe. A physical therapist can also help to design a balanced workout program. One must also pay attention to any warning signals, such as chest pain, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and nausea while exercising, and report them to the doctor.

Myth 6: Women should not be worried about heart problems

Fact: In reality, heart disease takes the lives of more women each year than breast cancer, and men are also more likely to get heart attacks and acquire coronary artery disease. However, after menopause, both men and women are equally at risk of having a heart attack.

Women are not always diagnosed with heart disease because many only receive primary care for their Gynecological Problems and never undergo a heart exam. Early in adulthood, women should get a comprehensive physical evaluation that includes baseline heart exams. This makes it possible to identify risk factors and talk about them before they get heart diseases.

Myth 7: Stenting is safer than bypass surgery

Fact: Without a doubt, coronary artery bypass grafting is a major medical procedure. However, when done by a skilled surgeon, the operational risk is less than 1%.

Stenting, equally safe and less intrusive than bypass surgery, enables patients to recuperate more quickly. Some patients may benefit more from stenting or bypass surgery. The cardiologist or heart surgeon will explain the rationale in these situations.

Myth 8: Some "superfoods" can prevent heart disease

Fact: Certain diets can help prevent heart disease, but not all foods. While superfoods like blueberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and salmon are good for the heart, they won't worsen the Condition.

The Mediterranean Diet, on the other hand, which includes whole grains, legumes, fish, vegetables, fruit, and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Myth 9: You'll be able to detect if you have high blood pressure

Fact: Hypertension rarely creates symptoms until it leads to a heart attack or stroke, and the only way to determine blood pressure is through a blood pressure monitor.

If high blood pressure runs in the family, it's a good idea to have a blood pressure check before the age of 21, and this serves as a basis for future measurements.

Myth 10: Bad cholesterol can be countered by having enough good cholesterol

Fact: Specialists focus heavily on LDL cholesterol rather than total cholesterol, which contains both "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Although a high HDL level is beneficial, very high rise indicates that the body is still depositing cholesterol in the arteries, which can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and other health complications.

Understand the myth, debunk it with the fact, and live a happy, heart-healthy life!