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Dr. Folasade Alli: Popular Myths About Heart Health Debunked

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When it comes to heart disease, there are so many myths and misinformation, and it is important to be well informed so you can make the right decision at all times. Here are popular myths about heart disease.

Heart attack is always dramatic, I can never miss the signs

Ever heard of a silent heart attack? Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck, or back.

Since heart disease runs in my family, there’s really nothing I can do to prevent it

While it’s true that people with a family history of heart disease are at a higher risk, this does not stop you from taking steps to reduce your risk. Actively creating routines, having daily exercise, keeping your cholesterol levels in check, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight can make a difference in reducing your risk of heart disease.

Avoid exercise after having a heart attack

This is not true! Rather, as soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you by your cardiologist! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make good heart health choices live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial.

People affected by heart diseases should consume omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Fatty acids have a protective effect on blood vessels. This is partly true. Basically, omega polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy, however, omega-3’s and omega-6’s are different in their effect. Omega-3 fatty acids work against inflammation, blood clots, and cardiac arrhythmias, and they also lower blood pressure. The composition of the fats in the blood and the health of the blood vessel walls can be improved by eating a diet rich in omega-3. On the other hand, omega-6 fatty acids can both fight and promote inflammation. The body can use omega-6 fatty acids to make molecules that promote inflammation. Therefore, the proportion of omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids in food should not exceed a ratio of 5:1.

Heart failure often occurs when people are overweight and obese

For people who are affected by a weak heart, being overweight will be unfavorable for the further development of the disease. It is true that excess weight and obesity are associated with a large heart disease risk. In addition to heart disease, being overweight/obese increases the risk for diabetes mellitus. These conditions typically improve with weight loss and regular exercise. Surprisingly, individuals already diagnosed have a higher chance of survival if they have a body mass index (BMI) of 25-35.

“Obesity paradox” has been proven in several scientific studies. There are probably various causes for this effect. On the one hand, adipose tissue is amazingly active: it produces various messenger substances, including a hormone that increases the feeling of satiety and an anti-inflammatory substance that can protect against further vascular diseases.

The BMI is a measure that indicates body weight in relation to body height. You can calculate your BMI yourself. A BMI between 19 and 25 is considered normal weight. A BMI above 25 is considered overweight. A BMI over 30 is classified as obese.

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Featured Image: Dreamstime

Dr. Folasade Alli is a U.K. and Nigeria trained Consultant Cardiologist and Advocate for Women in Cardiology. Her career is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of heart, vascular and thoracic diseases through early detection, clinical management, education and prevention. Read some of her work HERE.

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