ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- There's a lot of myths and misconception surrounding heart attacks and cardiac health.
"Chest pain is the only indicator of a heart attack," "Cardiac issues are for those over 50 and don't affect young people," and "There's nothing I can do, my genes have already determined my overall hearth health," are just a few commonly held beliefs about heart conditions. While there's an element of truth to each of these myths, Dr. Jared Corriel, director of Echocardiography at Nyack Hospital and a cardiologist with Highland Medical PC, Advanced Cardiovascular Care explains what's true and false about these commonly held perceptions.
Myth: If I feel fine, I must not have heart disease.
Fact: Anyone with multiple risk factors for heart disease—such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol—is at a much greater risk for heart disease, no matter how good they feel. Smoking and a family history of early heart disease also pose a greater risk.
Myth: If I don’t feel chest pain, I’m not having a heart attack.
Fact: Some people, especially women, don’t have the classic signs of chest pain when they are having a heart attack. Signs of a heart attack in women can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, and back or jaw pain.
Myth: If I have a stent, I’m no longer at risk for a heart attack.
Fact: Placing a stent in an artery will not save your life or prevent future heart attacks. However, it can alleviate the symptoms of chest pains or shortness of breath with exertion.
Myth: I’m only in my 30s—I can’t have heart disease.
Fact: Developing heart disease is a lifelong process. People in their 30s and 40s can have heart attacks—especially those who smoke, use drugs such as cocaine and have multiple risk factors for heart disease.
Myth: If I feel OK, I don’t have high blood pressure.
Fact: People typically don’t have symptoms of high blood pressure, or hypertension, unless it’s exceptionally elevated. In recent years we have found that even low-grade hypertension raises the risk for heart attack and strokes.
Myth: I shouldn’t exercise after having a heart attack because I’m worried about overstraining my heart.
Fact: If you’ve had surgery after a heart attack, your doctor will tell you how long to rest. However, as soon as you get the green light from your doctor, try and start moving. Studies have shown that getting 150 minutes per week of exercise is associated with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
Myth: Heart disease runs in my family, so I know it’s in my future, too.
Fact: Today, we know so much more about how to prevent heart disease than in previous generations. Our parents were more likely to be smokers and live a sedentary lifestyle. You can absolutely change your heart disease risk profile, even if it runs in your family. We have a variety of advanced tests that help us find heart disease early and ways to treat it earlier.
Myth: I don’t need to get my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.
Fact: The American Heart Association recommends that adults get their cholesterol checked starting at age 20. You should have your cholesterol checked routinely by your physician as cholesterol can build up in the arteries over many years before causing visible problems.
For more information on the cardiac services at Highland Medical, click here.