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Heart Health Myths

According to the American Heart Association Cardiovascular disease and strokes cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one women every 80 seconds. You might be thinking well I’m too young to get heart disease. However you aren’t too young. How you live now affects your risk for developing cardiovascular disease later on in life.

Since it’s the last day of American Heart Health Month we decided to share some information we found about heart health myths that we found. One of Florida Hospital‘s Cardiologists, Patricia Guerrero, shared some myths shes heard over the years.

  • “Vitamins will protect me.”

Dr. Guerrero has found many patients believe they can eat anything if they take supplements. Although many are helpful they aren’t proven to prevent heart disease but eating healthy can help you be one step closer to being healthy. Try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. “We still believe omega-3 fatty acids containing fish may offer some protection against heart disease, though,” says Dr. Guerrero. “High-risk women should continue to eat oily fish, such as salmon, at least three times a week rather than taking supplements” said Dr. Guerrero.

  • “A few extra pounds cant hurt.”

Or can it? Having extra weight can take a tole on your heart by elevating blood pressure and raising LDL cholesterol. By just lowering your weight by 10 percent you can lower your risk for diabetes.

  • “I only need to worry about bad cholesterol.” 

Dr. Guerrero says, “every 1 percent increase in HDL carries a 2 percent decrease in the risk of heart attack.” In other words, HDL acts as like a scavenger, picking up excess cholesterol and taking it back to the liver where it is broken down.

  • “An aspirin a day keeps the cardiologist away”

As great as this saying is it can actually cause gastrointestinal bleeding in younger women. If you’re over 65, aspirin may be helpful because it thins the blood, lowering your risk of clots. But there’s no evidence it prevents heart attacks in those under 65.

  • “My body mass index is normal, so I don’t need to worry about my heart.” 

BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat, muscle, and bone, so it’s not a reliable health indicator. It’s more important to pay attention to your waistline. “Excess fat in the abdomen tends to be closely linked to higher CPR,” Dr. Guerrero said. “If your waist circumference is over 35 inches and you have triglycerides levels above 150, you are at nearly five times greater risk of dying from heart disease.”

She also has warned her patients that angiograms don’t always detect if your blood vessels are healthy. Since women have narrower arteries than men they tend to have plaque distributed evenly throughout.

So, what can you do to protect yourself against a heart attack?

The biggest factors that lead to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Although you can’t change your family history or age you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

To read more about heart health check:

 A Heart to Heart About Heart Disease 

Heart Disease: A Silent Killer of Women

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