When it comes to heart disease, one would think that Americans would be well informed. After all, it is the leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in four deaths in the US every year is a result of heart disease – that’s approximately 600,000 people.
However, according to a recent survey performed by the Cleveland Clinic, 70 percent of the participating Americans did not accurately identify all of the symptoms of heart disease. Additionally, 32 percent said that they are not taking any steps to prevent it. Of those that had a family history of heart disease, 26 percent said that they were not taking any prevention measures.
The survey found that a number of Americans have certain misconceptions about our leading killer. The following are four of the most popular:
High blood pressure in older adults is nothing to worry about.
Just because it happens to a lot of people does not mean it is not a cause for concern. Having high blood pressure (above 140/90) increases the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, due to the heart having to work harder to send blood through the body. If you have high blood pressure, it’s time to make some serious lifestyle changes to bring it down to a healthy level.
Taking vitamin supplements is adequate protection against heart disease.
While certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants do work to help lower blood pressure and boost your protection against heart disease, vitamins taken in synthetic, processed form, such as in most supplement capsules, are poorly absorbed by the body. The body simply does not respond in the same way to vitamins taken in capsule form as to vitamins naturally found in whole, nutritious foods.
For this reason, it is important to look to a healthy diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables for your nutrients and antioxidants – simply popping a pill will not do the trick.
People who have been diagnosed with heart disease should not exercise.
This is just plain wrong. While individuals who have been diagnosed with heart disease should not be running a marathon, mild exercise is key to improving heart health, and preventing the worsening of the disease for most people. Dr. Richard T. Lee, a cardiologist and co-editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter, says, “for the vast majority of people with heart disease, being sedentary is a bad idea. It can lead to blood clots in the legs and a decline in overall physical condition.”
It is recommended to talk to a health professional about what kinds of exercise, and how much, you can do if you have been diagnosed with this disease.
I had heart surgery, my heart is fine now.
While cardiovascular surgeries, such as stenting, bypass surgery or angioplasty, can be lifesaving, and may even eliminate the symptoms of heart disease, they do not fix the problem of atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries. If you’ve had heart surgery, it is especially essential to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly (as allowed by your doctor) and cut out unhealthy habits.
As the heart disease death toll keeps rising, it is disturbing that so many Americans are lacking in vital information about this disease, and have no prevention plan in mind. Whether you have had issues with your heart, or have always been completely healthy, educating yourself on the symptoms and warning signs, and leading a healthy, active lifestyle are key if you want to avoid becoming part of the statistics.
-The Alternative Daily