MYTH 1: If you have heart disease, take it easy
“For the vast majority of people with heart disease, being sedentary is a bad idea. It can lead to blood clots in the legs and a decline in overall physical condition,” says cardiologist and Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Richard T. Lee. Physical activity helps strengthen the heart muscle, improves blood flow to the brain, and improves overall health and well-being.
What you can do: Ask your doctor what kind of exercise would be right for you, and how much you should do. Most people can walk, and any amount of walking is good for your heart.
MYTH 2: It’s okay to have higher blood pressure when you’re older.
Blood pressure tends to rise with age, but the fact that this trend is common doesn’t mean that it is good for you. It happens because artery walls become stiff with age. Stiff arteries force the heart to pump harder. Blood pounding against the artery walls damages them over time.
The overworked heart muscle becomes less effective and pumps even harder to meet the body’s demands for blood. This further damages the arteries and invites fat into the artery walls. This is how high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What you can do: Be aware of the signs of high blood pressure, and if you have any of them get it checked. If it’s above 140/90, ask what you can do to bring it down before medication may be needed. Simple steps such as exercise and diet are often highly effective
MYTH 3: You can lower your risk of heart disease with vitamins and supplements.
The antioxidant vitamins E, C, and beta carotene factor into lowering heart disease risk. However, clinical trials of supplements of these vitamins have either failed to confirm benefit or were conducted in such a way that no conclusion could be drawn. The American Heart Association has stated that there is no scientific evidence showing that these supplements prevent or treat cardiovascular disease.
What you can do: The best place to start is with your diet, so you get good levels of nutrients from whole foods, fruit and vegetables and minimise processed and additive rich foods. The best supplement for heart health is bioidentical natural progesterone to protect it from heart disease and strokes as well as helping reduce blood pressure.
MYTH 4: Heart disease is really a man’s problem
Unfortunately this a myth that has widespread currency, despite being completely false. Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and it is the leading cause of death in women now, six times more than from cancer.
The biggest problem is that symptoms in women are not so obvious, and so less likely to be seen by a doctor and treated. Early warning signs of heart attack come with a sudden onset of extreme weakness that feels like the flu – often with no chest pain at all.
What you can do: If there is any history of heart disease, make sure your doctor checks you at least annually and familiarise yourself with the symptoms in women. Always consult your doctor if you are at all uncertain as to your symptoms.
MYTH 5: If you have heart disease, you should eat as little fat as possible
It’s true you should eat a diet low in saturated fat and avoid trans fat altogether. But other fats, notably the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils and other foods, are beneficial. In fact, eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, twice a week can lower the risk of heart disease.
What you can do: The Mediterranean diet is the most heart healthy – see the article below by Dr Andrew Weil. Include fatty fishes, nuts, and olive oil in your diet. If you eat meat, make sure the cuts are lean, and remove the skin from your poultry.
The role of oestrogen dominance in increasing heart risk is an important one, particularly in menopausal women. Progesterone is protective of heart health and a healthy diet and regular, enjoyable, exercise when coupled with stress reaction will all make a substantial difference to your risk factor.
Foods That Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
10 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Heart