10 myths and facts about cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the most common health issues across the globe. While there are multiple reasons for the hike, it is also true that there is a huge lack of awareness and knowledge among people regarding the disease, its symptoms, its causes, diagnosis and treatment. Several myths tend to be believed and passed on as facts, whereas on the other hand, facts are not given enough weightage. Hence, it is very important to know and understand the myths and facts about cardiovascular disease, of which the ten most common ones are listed below:

Myth: A cardiovascular disease is a man’s disease

Fact: While heart diseases are often thought of as a man’s disease, they are as much a risk for women too. Recently the rate at which women have died due to heart disease is proof of this fact. That is mostly because symptoms of heart diseases – such as a heart attack or coronary artery diseases – in women differ from those of men. However, some common symptoms remain the same in both genders. Some common heart disease symptoms that both genders might experience are acute chest pain and tightness or discomfort in the chest. However, women are more likely to experience heart disease symptoms that are unrelated to chest pain and include:

  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat
  • Pain in upper back or abdomen
  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Acute pain in arms (one or both)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Unexplained Fatigue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Consistent and recurring indigestion

Myth: Young people do not get cardiovascular diseases

Fact: People often believe that cardiovascular diseases affect older men and women rather than the younger generation. However, that is far from the truth. Even though the risk of heart issues does shoot up with increasing age, it still does not defy the fact that heart disease can impact anyone at any age. Some heart issues are congenital and are present at birth; these are diagnosed after the baby’s birth or when they tend to show symptoms. 

Cardiovascular issues such as heart valve problems, heart muscle disease, heart rhythm problems, can affect anyone irrespective of age. The kind of lifestyle, physical activity, diet, stress, and habits such as alcohol and smoking, etc. play a vital role in determining the risk of a person in developing cardiovascular diseases. Typically, how you live now affects your heart later in life.

Myth: No symptoms, means everything is OK. 

Fact: Two major risk factors and causes of most of the cardiovascular diseases in men and women is high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Both of these have no symptoms unless they reach alarming stages. In many cases, a person will only know about these conditions, when they cause a life-threatening complication such as a stroke or a heart attack.Hence, regular monitoring of both health signs is very critical to keep a check on the heart’s condition. If these levels are not optimal, one should take immediate corrective steps.

Myth: Avoid exercising and take it lightly after a heart attack.

Fact: Even though this advice is circulated to all heart attack survivors, irrespective of age, the truth quite literally the opposite.As per research, heart attack survivors who engage inregular physical activity and make heart-healthy lifestyle changes tend to live longer than those who do not. Even people with chronic cardiovascular diseases, can consult their doctors and get advice on doing moderate-intensity activity. At least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical workout is suggested each week to ensure good cardiovascular health. However, the plan of action must be made after consulting your doctor.

Myth: If you take diabetes medications, you don’t need to worry.

Fact: Treating diabetes with medications can only help to delay the development of cardiovascular problem or reduce its risk. But in no way, does it guarantee any sort of protection against the heart issues. Even with controlled blood sugar levels, one is still at a high risk of heart diseases and stroke. This is because of the risk factors which trigger diabetes – such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, etc. – also make one more prone to developing cardiovascular disease.

Myth: A person experiencing a heart attack will have chest pain 

Fact: Even though partially true, a person experiencing a heart attack might not always experience chest pain. Sometimes, the symptoms are subtle and involve shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, pain in one or both arms, pain in the neck or jaw, etc. Hence, even if a person is not experiencing any chest pain and has these symptoms, immediate medical help must be called for.

Myth: Heart disease is in my family, there is nothing a person can do.

Fact: Family history does play a part in your cardiovascular health but it is not a stringent factor. People with a very risky family history can also take certain steps to keep cardiovascular problems at bay and ensure good heart health. Regular preventive heart health check-ups, as well assteps such as staying active, controlling cholesterol levels, keeping blood sugar and blood pressure in check, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking – seriously, can help with minimising symptoms and reducing the overall risk.

Myth: I would know if I had high blood pressure

Fact: High blood pressure is a silent killer and often does not give symptoms unless it is highly aggravated.There may be no warning signs and it can happen at any age; hence, one must be cautious about monitoring the blood pressure levels and seek early treatment in case the levels are high. If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other critical health issues. 

Myth: Fast heartbeat is a sign of a heart attack

Fact: Some variation in the rate of the heartbeat is considered normal. Such as raising heart rate while exercising, or when excited or a slow heartbeat while sleeping, etc. is very normal and not alarming. However, sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia implying irregular heartbeats. Though most arrhythmias are harmless, some can cause long-term impact and would need treatment.

Myth: Pain in legs is a sign of ageing, not a heart problem

Fact: Pain in legs, is often considered a sign of ageing and hence, neglected. However, leg pain felt in the muscles can indicate a cardiovascular disease known as peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a result of blocked arteries in the legs, which are because of a build-up of plaque. PAD also increases the risk of heart attack or stroke in people.