Did you know that cardiovascular diseases or heart diseases are the number one cause of death around the globe? We witnessed a number of deaths due to heart attacks in India, but still, there’s so much that people don’t know about these diseases. For starters, cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for diseases that affect your heart. However, that could be something only people who read about it know. But the one thing that most people fail to understand is that little information can lead to misconceptions, which can be dangerous in every way possible. So, here are some myths about heart diseases you should stop believing for the sake of your heart.
Let’s bust some myths about heart diseases!
Dr Sharath Reddy Annam, a senior consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Director of TAVR and Structural Heart Disease, Medicover Hospitals, Hyderabad, shared the common myths and facts with us.
Myth 1: Pain is the only warning sign of a heart attack
Fact: Heart attacks most commonly present as chest pain but not always. Dr Annam shares that older people with diabetes may not even experience chest pain during a heart attack. They may experience acute breathlessness or perspiration due to coexisting neuropathy. Sometimes, people experience pain in the neck or shoulder or forearm, and do experience any chest discomfort.
Myth 2: Angioplasty is better than bypass or vice-versa
Fact: Angioplasty and bypass surgery are two different methods of revascularization for patients, which is a procedure to restore blood flow in blocked arteries, explain the expert. Each method has its own merits and demerits.
In 80 percent of the cases, the revascularization is decided without much ambiguity, but some cases require systematic analysis before taking a step. The decision is taken by the team of heart specialists, including a cardiologist, cardiac surgeon and cardiac anaesthetist, after analysing complete clinical details, angiographic details and procedural risks and benefits, he adds.
Myth 3: Heart disease runs in my family, so I can’t do anything to increase my heart’s health
Fact: Of course you can reduce the incidence of heart disease. Apart from genetic inheritance there are modifiable risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressures, diet, smoking, stressful lifestyle which should be identified and controlled to prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, explains Dr Annam.
Myth 4: Heart failure means my heart has stopped beating
Fact: “Heart failure is a term used to describe reduced heart pumping. Nowadays, we have an armamentarium of medicines and devices to treat heart failure and improve outcomes,” clarifies the expert.
Myth 5: As long as I take my medication, diabetes won’t affect my heart
Fact: When treatment is initiated for diabetes or hypertension patients, physicians plan certain specific goals (HBA1C below 7, maintaining blood pressure 140/90). This needs to be achieved to minimise long term complications induced by these disorders. Therefore, along with taking regular medications and following lifestyle changes concerned patients should consult his physician periodically, elucidates the cardiologist.
Myth 6: I shouldn’t exercise after having a heart attack
Fact: “Exercise is forbidden for acute heart stroke patients till the healing process of diseased muscle is completed, which generally takes around six weeks. We recommend progress incremental symptom limited exercise for all able-bodied patients, six weeks after heart stroke. In contrast patients who underwent angioplasty for indications other than acute heart stroke can start exercise as early as they can,” he concludes.
So, stop believing misconceptions and talk to a doctor before making irrational decisions that might put your heart and overall health at risk.