Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and each year cardiovascular conditions kill more Americans than all types of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association.
The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable. Lowering your risk involves early prevention, adopting healthy habits and being educated about cardiovascular health.
Let's separate fact from fiction when it comes to improving your heart health and debunk five of the most common myths about heart disease.
1. Taking baby aspirin lowers your risk of heart attack.
You may be among the millions of people take a low-dose aspirin each day to prevent heart attack and stroke. While it's true that aspirin has one of the best track records for reducing cardiac events, new research shows the effects vary depending on your weight.
A study in The Lancet found that people who weigh more than 154 pounds don't experience the same heart-protecting benefits from taking aspirin as those who weigh less. A daily dose of the pill can also increase your risk for gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke. Before making changes to your regimen, always speak with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
2. Eating eggs is bad for your heart.
Eggs are not as harmful to your heart as medical experts once feared. Eggs contain heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats, various vitamins and less cholesterol than previously recorded. In fact, eggs have almost no effect on total or “bad" LDL cholesterol in 70 percent of people.
Research from Harvard Medical School confirms that eating an egg a day is safe, as long as the rest of your plate is nutrient-dense. Try to avoid including refined carbs with your breakfast, such as muffins, bagels and home fries. These foods contain "bad fats" that may contribute to blocked arteries. Opt for greens and fruit instead.
3. If you have heart disease, you'll have symptoms.
Hypertension is referred to as a "silent killer" for a reason. High blood pressure can develop slowly over time and have no obvious symptoms. Studies show that 64 percentof women who die from heart attack did so suddenly, without showing any warning signs.
Know your cardiovascular health numbers regularly to keep tabs on any changes. You can get your blood pressure checked today at your local MinuteClinic. It's also wise to learn about how the signs of a heart attack vary between men versus women so that you can take early action if symptoms develop.
4. Diabetes doesn't affect your heart.
Think again: Diabetes nearly quadruples your chances of developing heart disease. Taking medications can help lower your blood glucose levels, but doesn't guarantee you won't develop other complications like high blood pressure and an increased risk of blood clots. Making healthy changes–quitting smoking, eating better, losing weight and exercising more–can help you control your diabetes and keep your heart strong.
5. Heart disease only affects older people.
According to The World Heart Federation, 22 percent of disability among people aged 15 to 49 is due to cardiovascular disease. It's never too early (or too late) to start making lifestyle choices that benefit your heart health.
Quality health care. On your schedule.
MinuteClinic offers convenient services to help you stay healthy on your schedule. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels is important to maintaining your heart health, so we offer a variety of screening services and packages.
If you need to stay on top of a chronic condition like heart disease, we can help with that, too. Our practitioners provide routine tests, instant results and educational support for those diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.