The Top Heart Health Myths BUSTED!
When it comes to improving our heart health (or our overall health) there is a lot of overlapping, conflicting, and confusing information available to us. Some people say that certain forms of exercise are guaranteed to improve your heart health, others deny it. Some websites explain blood pressure one way, where other sites explain it the opposite. How do we keep up with the flood of information and determine what is truly good for us and what is a myth? Well, when it comes to heart health, we have taken the time to ensure that you are properly informed! Here are the top heart health myths… BUSTED! Time to get your heart health back on track with information you can trust!
“I would know if I had high blood pressure.” – MYTH BUSTED!!
Most of us are pretty sensitive to changes in our bodies, or at least see differences in how we go about our daily lives, but blood pressure can be sneaky! When someone has high blood pressure, they may or may not be able to tell depending upon the severity. Some individuals with severe blood pressure can find themselves with rare symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or nosebleeds. But in most cases, you will not experience these symptoms and instead will simply live in ignorance with what is referred to as the “silent killer.”
The reason high blood pressure is referred to as the “silent killer” is because of the lack of symptoms and the speed of which it deteriorates the heart. The longer high blood pressure is left untreated, the faster it will lead to emergencies such as heart attack or cardiac arrest. It is very important to visit the doctor regularly to monitor your blood pressure (be sure to have them explain to you what the numbers on a blood pressure reading mean!) and act before it has a negative impact on your heart.
“Kids can’t go into cardiac arrest – they’re too young.” – MYTH BUSTED!
Commercials with emergency buttons often show elderly individuals clutching their hearts and falling to the ground and then quickly pressing the ‘help’ button. But as scary as it is, anyone can have a cardiac arrest. Infants, children, teens, adults, seniors, elders… any human on planet Earth. While it is true that some individuals who have these heart-related emergencies may have had underlying issues (such as heart disease, congenital heart disease, heart defects, etc.), some may not yet know of their diagnosis or are even perfectly healthy otherwise. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is found to affect people of all ages and of all stages of health. Someone may be the healthiest individual, be in top shape, and still experience a cardiac arrest. Although we can’t know if we will fall victim, there are certain risk factors to be aware of that could increase the chance for a heart attack:
- Family history of heart failure/disease
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Previous episode of a heart attack or cardiac arrest
- Ejection fraction (how well your heart ventricles are pumping blood)
- Coronary artery disease
- Fainting episodes
Being aware of these risk factors helps to identify potential cardiac arrest events. It is for this reason that annual checkups are crucial to stay aware of your current heart health status. It is with your family doctor that you can discuss the actions to take to improve and ensure better overall well-being and heart health.
“Heart attacks and cardiac arrest are the same thing.” – MYTH BUSTED!
A heart attack occurs when blood flow has become blocked, and the heart is not receiving enough oxygen. People experiencing a heart attack may report symptoms such as:
- Discomfort and pain in the chest
- Discomfort and pain in other parts of the body (usually arm, jaw, neck, or back)
- Confusion, dizziness, or disorientation
- Difficulty breathing
On the other hand, a cardiac arrest occurs when the heart is beating sporadically – meaning that it is not keeping a normal rhythm. The heart is no longer functioning properly to deliver (or receive) blood/oxygen to the rest of the body. When this occurs, a person will become unconscious due to the lack of oxygen and stop breathing. A person experiencing cardiac arrest will show symptoms such as:
- Weakness or fatigue (before falling unconscious)
- Chest Pain
Want to know more about the differences between the heart attacks and cardiac arrest, and how to help in each emergency? Check out our full blog!
“Heart disease is the same for men and women.” – BUSTED!
Now that we know that anyone can have heart disease, is it the same for men and women? NOPE! The effects of heart disease on both men and women have been researched and studied over the years, and researchers have found that there is in fact a difference! It has been noted that cardiovascular disease will develop 7-10 years later for a woman than a man. Of course, just because men are more likely to get heart disease sooner, does not mean that women have less of a risk.
According to The Heart Research Institute, heart disease is still the number one cause of death for women aged 55+. Additionally, the Heart Research Institute has states that Canadian women are 16% more likely to die after a heart attack than men.
What’s the same? Recognition! Everyone need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so they can call for help and receive the medical attention necessary to survive the event. That said, when having a heart attack, women will experience slightly different symptoms than men, including:
- More likely to experience dizziness
- More likely to feel pain in the jaw or upper back (compared to men feeling it more in the chest)
- May have increased sweating
- More likely to experience shortness of breath
Because these symptoms differ from the symptom’s men may have when experiencing a heart attack (men most typically have chest pain and more obvious heart attack symptoms like irregular heartbeats and shortness of breath), women are more likely to shrug it off as discomfort, stress, feeling ‘under the weather,’ or even thinking it might simply be the flu.
If you, man or woman, ever suspect that you are having heart attack symptoms, call 911 and guarantee that help is on the way should things take a turn for the worse.
“I don’t need to worry about my heart health until I am old.” – MYTH BUSTED!
We need to realize that ensuring you have a healthy heart all of your life means you need to start now! Take action by:
- Participating in regular exercise (or exercise programs for children)
- Eating healthy meals (with heart healthy ingredients)
- Quitting harmful habits such as smoking (should be done as early as possible!)
If people would start taking the time to attend to their hearts earlier, they could avoid serious problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, heart attacks, and other health issues.
Don’t let these heart health myths bust your chance at living a long heart healthy life. Be aware of how to help your heart, speak with your doctor, and act today to ensure you live a long, heart-healthy, and amazing life!