1. “I’m too young to worry about heart diseases.”
As early as childhood and adolescence, plaques can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type II diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
2. “I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.”
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you may never experience symptoms. The way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test.
3. “I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.”
Not necessarily. A heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack or not, call 911 immediately.
4. “Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.”
Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
5. “Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.”
Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by eating better, controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, maintaining healthy weight, and stop smoking.
6. “I don’t need to have my blood cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.”
The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your blood cholesterol checked every 5 years starting at age 20. It’s a good idea to start having a cholesterol test even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease.
7. “I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.”
Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week for overall cardiovascular health.