7 of the biggest heart-health myths BUSTED

We asked, and the experts answered...
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Outdated assumptions and “Dr Google” have led to confusion around heart health, which is why we’ve asked two leading heart experts to dispel these commonly mistaken cardiovascular disease myths.

Starting with…

MYTH 1: I’m too young to worry about heart disease

“Risk factors begin accumulating as early as our 20s, so we need to be observant of our heart health at every stage of our lives,” advises Heart Foundation National Spokesperson on Women’s Health, Julie Anne Mitchell.

It’s never too early to eat well and exercise regularly to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other heart disease risk factors.

MYTH 2: I’ll feel it if I have high blood pressure or high cholesterol

Dr Nikki Stamp, an Australian heart surgeon and author of Can You Die Of A Broken Heart?, explains the only way to “catch” heart disease symptoms is to see your doctor. “Your GP can do a heart health check,” Dr Stamp explains.

“That way you’ll know your cholesterol and blood pressure and be checked for conditions like diabetes.”

MYTH 3: Non-prescription supplements won’t reduce high blood pressure

Supplements such as potassium and garlic can lower blood pressure but should never be taken unless prescribed by a doctor. This is because high potassium can cause kidney problems or trigger other heart conditions, particularly if you are already on medication for blood pressure. It is best to increase your intake of nutrients such as potassium and garlic naturally through a healthy, balanced diet.

High blood pressure can sometimes also be caused by increased levels of stress and anxiety. WATCH this video to learn how to cope with stress. Story continues after this video.

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MYTH 4: Everyone experiences a heart attack the same way.

Heart attacks are not one-size-fits-all and the combination of symptoms differs. “Men are more likely to have pain in the middle of the chest that travels to the arm or jaw,” Dr Stamp says.

“Whereas women have symptoms like tiredness, nausea, stomach pain or back pain.”

MYTH 5: You should eat as little fats as possible

Fats aren’t the enemy – it’s about choosing the right kinds and omitting others.

“Avoid saturated fat and up your intake of good fats, like those from avocado and fish,” advises Dr Stamp.

MYTH 6: Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do

A genetic predisposition certainly places you at a higher risk – but it doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. “Lifestyle risk factors can be managed by not smoking, having a healthy diet, keeping your weight under control and being physically active,” explains Julie Anne.

MYTH 7: You should take it easy if you have heart disease

Heart attack survivors are encouraged to exercise their heart to reduce the risk of reoccurrence. Speak to your doctor about an activity right for you.

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