Heart Disease Myths, Busted: Forget What You Thought You Knew
Historically, most heart disease research has been conducted with men, leading to many common misconceptions about heart disease in women. Here’s what you might have thought you knew about heart disease.
Myth: “It’s more common in men than women.”
Truth: Men and women have an equal risk of heart disease. Heart disease affects women and men at the same rates, but women aren’t as aware of their risk as men tend to be. One in five women in the U.S. dies of heart disease. That’s on par with men, and it’s the number-one killer in the country.
Myth: “Heart disease doesn’t affect women who are fit.”
Truth: While staying in shape does boost heart health, even the most fit people can be at risk. Factors like cholesterol, eating habits and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can also be thin and have high cholesterol.
Myth: “Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.”
Truth: Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, there are ways to improve heart health and reduce the risk. Adjusting your lifestyle can help drastically: exercise, managing your cholesterol and blood pressure, a better diet and quitting smoking all help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Myth: “I don’t have a family history of heart disease, so I’m not at risk.”
Truth: You don’t have to have a family history of heart disease to be at risk for heart-health issues. Many times, symptoms are hard to spot, especially if heart disease is off your radar.
Myth: “Heart disease is for old people.”
Truth: Heart disease affects people of all ages. According to the AHA, one in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Lifestyle is one of the biggest contributing factors to heart disease.
Myth: “I don’t have any symptoms, so I must be fine.”
Truth: Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Because these symptoms vary greatly between men and women, they’re often misunderstood. Women often experience shortness of breath, nausea, back or jaw pain, dizziness and extreme fatigue.
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