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4 Common Heart Health Myths

Posted by Thomas Oliver on 9/2/2014

Poets, musicians, novelists and mystics have spoken often of the language of the heart, but what exactly is the heart saying?

The human heart is a powerful organ that pumps 60 to 90 times per minute when calm and at rest. However, the heart does have its limits.

Myths about heart health abound. Television, films, and pop culture cultivate and spread certain myths about heart health and heart attacks -- myths that can kill if never questioned. 

Myth #1: Heart disease is genetic and pre-ordained.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no gene for heart disease. Instead, physicians look at the heart health of first-degree relatives to better determine each individual's chances of experiencing heart disease. 

Each person also can promote heart health in a variety of ways, dispelling the fatalistic viewpoint that nothing can be done. Exercise makes a huge difference in promoting heart health, and quitting smoking provides instant heart benefits that only increase in number as time goes on, making quitting the cigarettes a worthwhile pursuit now. 

Myth #2: It's obvious when someone is suffering from a heart attack.

People having a heart attack do not always sway, get a horrified look on their face, and grab their chest. There are many symptoms that indicate a heart attack, including heartburn, fatigue, and dizziness. 

Women experience heart attack symptoms differently than do men. Often, instead of chest pain, women experience pain in their back, neck, stomach, or jaw. Women also often experience nausea when having a heart attack. 

It is important to piece all of the symptoms of a heart attack together so that anyone, male or female, experiencing one or more of the most common symptoms gets a check-up fast, to rule out a heart attack or another more serious health condition.

Myth #3: You are OK if you buy trans-fat free foods.

Eating an entire package of a food labeled trans-fat free is not heart-healthy. In fact, foods labeled as "trans-fat free" can still contain up to a certain amount of trans fat, so you may be ingesting a high amount of trans fats anyway. 

Furthermore, foods labeled as "trans-fat free" can still contain high amounts of saturated fats, which are dangerous to the heart. A better way to promote heart health is to read the entire label and take into account the amount of sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and overall serving size. 

Myth #4: Stress and anxiety are not serious heart health risks. 

In today's fast-paced world, many people take stress and high anxiety levels for granted. However, stress is not just an unpleasant inconvenience. Over time, it can weaken the heart muscle. 

The fight-or-flight response, part of which includes a racing heartbeat in order to provide necessary blood to the body's extremities for either combat or serious running, will eventually weaken if this particular response continues long-term. A racing heart for a short period of time is healthy adaptation, but a lifetime of stress can actually shorten your life. 

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