Debunking Four Heart Health Myths

Uncover four common myths about heart health and cardiovascular disease.

Doctor checking heart health cartoon.

Your heart is an essential organ that pumps blood to the rest of your body, supplying nutrients and oxygen to your cells and eliminating waste products. Heart health can impact your overall health and well-being, as well as your ability to participate in your favorite activities and live a healthy lifestyle.

There are plenty of myths and misinformation about heart health and cardiovascular disease swirling around, so read on to learn four common heart health myths.

1. Younger people do not need to worry about heart health

The way you live in your younger years has a serious impact on your heart health now and into the future. Plaque can begin accumulating in your arteries when you’re young, which can lead to the thickening of the blood vessel walls.

Plaque is another name for fatty deposits made up of cellular waste products, cholesterol, fatty substances, and other materials. Too much of it can increase your risk of clogged arteries, which can take a toll on your heart.

You can even experience cardiovascular disease early in life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., and about two in ten of the deaths caused by coronary artery disease occur in adults who are under 65 years old.

Making heart-healthy choices from an early age can reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as help you stay healthier throughout your lifetime. Some of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding tobacco use and excessive alcohol use
  • Keeping stress levels under control

Related: Why Weight Lifting Is Good for Heart Health

2. Only men have to worry about heart disease

Men are certainly impacted by heart disease, but women are just as likely to contract the disease. In fact, more women than men have died of heart disease in the last three decades. Both men and women should be aware of their risk factors and take action to reduce their risk of contracting heart disease.

Keep up with regular wellness examinations with your healthcare provider and make sure those checkups include blood pressure checks and cholesterol-level testing.

3. Avoiding fats prevent the risk of heart disease

While certain types of fats like saturated and trans fats are linked to poor heart health, other types of fats can actually lower your risk of heart disease.

You should include some unsaturated fats in your diet, as they are quite beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels and lowering your risk. Unsaturated fat is found in foods like nuts, olive oil, and low-fat dairy products, as well as omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish, such as salmon.

Related: Foods That Are Good for Heart Health

4. Genetic factors impact the risk of heart disease more than lifestyle choices

Your genetics do play a role when it comes to heart health, but many people impacted by cardiovascular disease engage in harmful behaviors, such as smoking, avoiding exercise, and eating an unhealthy diet.

The choices you make can increase your cholesterol levels, cause high blood pressure, and even result in type 2 diabetes. All of these have the potential to increase your risk of contracting heart disease. If you do have genetic risk factors in play, it’s even more important to maintain your weight, keep your blood pressure under control, and stay active.

Busting these common myths about heart health can help you better understand the risks associated with cardiovascular disease. Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider to reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other heart-related issues.

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