7 Myths About Heart Health That Just Aren’t True Anymore

Maintaining heart-healthy habits can be tricky when there are a lot of myths floating around. Should You Avoid Fats Because of Cholesterol? Is red wine heart healthy or not?

With new research being conducted and new guidelines being announced regularly, it’s normal for some of these answers to change over time. Below, cardiologists debunk heart health myths you should know by now:

Myth: You don’t have to worry about your heart health when you’re young.

If you’re under 50, you may think that you don’t have to worry about your heart health and that your chances of getting heart disease are slim. While it’s true that your risk of heart disease increases with age, it can start early because it’s directly affected by lifestyle habits.

“The top seven modifiable risk factors for heart disease include smoking, inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, being overweight and poor nutrition,” Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, a cardiologist and chief medical officer of Step One Foods. HuffPost.

When it comes to monitoring your heart health, measuring risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar requires a physical evaluation and lab tests.

“Assuming your ‘numbers’ are good, my rule of thumb is that people should get tested twice in their 20s, three times in their 30s, four times in their 40s, and annually thereafter. after age 50,” Klodas said.

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Protecting your cardiovascular health isn’t as complicated as we’ve made it seem. Do not believe these misconceptions.

Myth: You should only focus on raising HDL (or “good”) cholesterol for cardiovascular health.

Cholesterol, a waxy substance that helps us build healthy cells, isn’t entirely harmful. We have two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – known as “good” cholesterol, because it transports cholesterol to the liver where it can be removed from our bloodstream – and low-density lipoprotein – known as “bad” cholesterol. because it carries cholesterol directly to our blood vessels.

“High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease because there is more plaque circulating in the bloodstream that can build up on the heart arteries,” says Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao, the director of clinical cardiology at Yale Medicine told HuffPost. You may think that raising your HDL cholesterol can offset your LDL cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.

“However, the The idea of ​​raising your HDL cholesterol for good cardiovascular health is erroneous and very outdated,” said Dr. Danielle Belardo, a cardiologist in Newport Beach, California. “Research shows that raising HDL cholesterol is not associated with reducing the risk of major adverse cardiac events.”

In some individuals, high HDL cholesterol levels may be a cause risk factor for heart disease. While this is still being researched by researchers, studies to date have suggested that a genetic connection.

“Nevertheless, we know what lowers cardiovascular risk, and this lowers LDL cholesterol,” Belardo said.

Factors such as eating a diet high in plants and fiber but low in saturated fat can play a positive role in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. In certain scenarios where individuals have existing coronary artery disease or genetic dyslipidemia, they may also need medication, Belardo added.

Myth: All fats are bad for heart health.

While it is true that intake of trans and saturated fats increases your risk of heart disease, a low-fat diet is not necessary for optimal heart health. Research shows that healthy fats – such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – are key to a balanced diet and lower disease risk.

“No food, in one dose, will cause chronic disease, but replacing foods higher in saturated fat, such as red meat and butter, with foods lower in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil and avocado, can increase your heart disease risk,” Belardo said.

Understand that just because a fat is plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean it’s heart-healthy. Coconut oil, for example, is usually saturated fat — about 50% more than butter, according to the Mayo clinic.

“People should aim for a diet that gets 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat, about 13 grams of saturated fat per day,” explains Hsiao.

Myth: Red wine is good for heart health.

Red wine is known to be heart healthy, but before you prescribe yourself a glass or two, understand that the link between drinking alcohol and improved heart health remains unclear.

“Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. But if you don’t drink right now, I don’t recommend you start drinking just because you think drinking red wine is good for your heart,” Hsiao said.

In fact, no amount of alcohol has been found cause a cardio-protective effectaccording to the World Heart Federation.

Overall, reducing alcohol intake is likely to reduce cardiovascular risk in all individuals. I recommend limiting alcohol to two drinks or less per day for men or one drink or less per day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed,” said Belardo.

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Don’t rely on red wine to improve your heart.

Myth: Taking aspirin daily is good for heart health.

Heart disease is an ongoing crisis in our country, as is the main cause of death for adults per year. That’s why it’s no surprise that health care providers are recommending steps for primary prevention to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in adults ages 40 to 59 who have never had heart disease.

A common recommendation is the daily use of low-dose “baby” aspirin, which reduces the clotting of platelets in the blood, potentially preventing a heart attack. According to American College of Cardiology guidelines, low-dose aspirin (75-100 milligrams per day) can be considered for primary prevention of heart disease in selected adults aged 40-70 at higher risk who are not at increased risk of bleeding.

However, taking aspirin daily can be harmful, as it puts people at a higher risk of ulcers and bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain. “The risk of bleeding increases with age and can be dangerous for individuals,” Belardo said.

In fact, the US Preventive Services Task Force — a panel of health experts — recently recommended that clinicians stop routinely prescribing a daily regimen of low-dose aspirin to adults over 60 because the potential harms of bleeding outweigh the benefits of heart disease prevention.

“This does not apply to individuals who have already had a heart attack, stroke, or known atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk and treatment,” Belardo said.

Myth: Only cardio-based exercise is good for heart health.

Ever heard that cardio exercises like running or swimming make your heart beat faster? Cardio, or cardiovascular fitness, is a form of aerobic exercise. This means that your heart and breathing rate increase while you engage in those activities.

While many studies have shown that good aerobic cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for heart health, it’s not the only activity that has cardio-protective effects, Hsiao said. Strength training has numerous health benefits, including improving cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering blood pressure.

American College of Cardiology guidelines recommend adults should participate in at least 150 minutes per week of accumulated moderate intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic physical activity (or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity) to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Bottom line: At the end of the day, the key is consistent exercise with a mix of intense and moderate activity — whether it’s walking or strength training to improve your heart health.

Myth: If you follow a healthy diet and exercise, you will never have a heart attack.

Even if it’s healthy Lifestyle changes such as following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking are incredibly important in reducing the risk of heart disease. There are several genetic factors that can affect your cardiovascular health. These factors affect your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and other related conditions.

In addition, your risk of heart disease can be further increased when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating an unhealthy diet.

“Prevention is the best intervention for cardiovascular disease. Make sure you know your family history and your numbers: know your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and discuss other major cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes and other chronic diseases,” Belardo said.

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