2014: Issue 29

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Better Health 2014 > Better Heart Care > 5 Myths about Heart Disease

5 Myths About Heart Disease

5 Myths about Heart Disease

Heart disease myths and misconceptions could be life threatening.

Dr. Suwatchai Pornratanarangsi

Advances in science and technology over the past decade have allowed us to learn a lot and understand more about heart disease. But unless you follow medical news closely, there is a chance you might have misconceptions about the risk factors for heart disease, or heart disease itself. This issue of Better Heal compiled a list of the five most common heart disease myths.

1 If you have heart disease, you need to take it easy.

Being diagnosed with heart disease may make some people hesitate to live an active lifestyle through fears that it could be harmful to their heart. In fact, being sedentary does more harm than good. Physical activity helps strengthen the heart muscle, improves overall health and well-being, and ensures the risk factors of heart disease including high blood pressure and diabetes are under control.

2 Higher blood pressure is normal as you get older.

Blood pressure tends to rise with age, but that doesn’t mean it is good for you. It happens because artery walls become stiff with age. Stiff arteries force the heart to pump harder. This sets up a vicious cycle. Blood pounding against the artery walls damages 
them over time. The overworked heart muscle becomes less effective and pumps harder to meet the body’s demands for 
blood. This further damages the arteries and invites fat into 
the artery walls. This is how high blood pressure increases 
the risk of heart attack and stroke.

3 If you have heart disease, you should eat as little fat as possible.

It is true you should eat a diet low in saturated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, and trans fat. But not all fats are equal. The unsaturated fats in vegetable oils and other foods are beneficial. In fact, eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of heart disease.


4 If you take a cholesterol-lowering drug, you can eat anything.

Cholesterol in the bloodstream comes from two sources – your liver makes some, and you get some from certain foods. Consumption of food carelessly with hope that medication will take care of everything is generally a bad idea. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver, but not those from food you eat. That is why doctors always prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication together with careful diet selection and lifestyle modification, which proves to be most effective in controlling cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk.

5 Angioplasty and stenting or bypass surgery will “fix” your heart.

Angioplasty and bypass surgery can better your heart function and reduce chest pain as well as improve your quality of life. But they don’t stop the underlying disease – atherosclerosis. Without 
correcting the problems that contribute to atherosclerosis, 
arteries will continue to become clogged with fatty plaque, which may mean the return of angina or a heart attack. 
After undergoing angioplasty or bypass surgery, it is important 
to correct the problems that led to the need for the procedure, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, a poor diet, smoking, or lack of exercise.

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