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Debunking Heart Disease Myths and Misconceptions
There are plenty of misconceptions about heart disease circulating, from who can get it to how it feels and more
Heart disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. However, misconceptions still exist. Angela Ferguson, D.O., a board-certified physician specializing in Interventional Cardiology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, debunks some common myths about the disease.
- I’m young and fit. Do I need to worry about heart disease now? Being fit reduces but doesn’t eliminate risk factors. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially since obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
- I’d feel sick if I had high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Neither produces early warning signs and both can lead to heart attack or stroke.
- I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack. Although it’s common to have chest pain, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness and discomfort in one or both arms.
- Heart attack symptoms are the same in men and women. Women, more often than men, may have less recognizable symptoms, such as abdominal pain, achiness in the jaw or back, nausea, shortness of breath and tiredness.
- Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it. You can take steps to reduce your risk: exercise, eat healthy, maintain an acceptable weight, control blood sugar, manage stress and don’t use tobacco.
“Regular exams are also an important way to help detect heart disease,” says Dr. Ferguson.
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