Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans are largely misinformed about heart disease prevention and symptoms, and almost a third (32 percent) of them are not taking any proactive steps to prevent heart disease according to a survey by the Cleveland Clinic.
Here’s what you might not know:
Myth: Finding out if you have the “heart disease” gene will tell you if you’re prone to a heart attack.
Truth: Not exactly. Seems yes, genes matter but scientists haven’t isolated a gene that determines heart disease risk. Instead, they rely on your family history of heart disease, which is one of the only risk factors that can predispose you. Knowing your family history and taking any necessary steps to prevent your risks are important.
Myth: You’ll know if you ever have a heart attack. The chest pain will be unbearable.
Truth: A lot of people, especially women, don’t have crushing chest pain but rather unusually bad fatigue, jaw or back pain or sleep disturbances instead. Learn the unusual symptoms of heart attack so you’ll be informed.
Myth: Fish is heart healthy because it’s low in cholesterol.
Truth: Some kinds of fish are low in cholesterol. Those include salmon, tuna and sardines. Other fish can be just as high in cholesterol as red meat. Make sure you’re eating heart healthy fish.
Myth: Taking fish oil supplements will protect you against heart disease.
Truth: While fish oil provides some health benefits, protecting you against heart disease is not one of them. In order for fish oil to prevent heart disease, you’d have to drink your weight in it.
Myth: Vitamins protect you against heart disease.
Truth: There is no research that supports taking vitamins or supplements prevents heart disease risk at this time. The American Heart Association says that while some studies have suggested that lower rates of cardiovascular disease and/or lower risk factor levels were found in populations who use vitamin or mineral supplements, it wasn’t clear if that was due to the supplements or other factors like participants were less overweight or more physically active.
Thirty-two percent of the survey responders know that a healthy diet, exercise, not smoking, family history and knowing your numbers are important in preventing heart disease. Try out the Kardia by AliveCor, Heart Monitor, if you’re interested in recording medical-grade EKGs easily at home. Kardia shows whether your heart rhythm is normal or if atrial fibrillation (a leading cause of stroke) is detected in your EKG.
Yet a third of us don’t take protective steps to protect ourselves against heart disease. One way to get to more exercise is track it in an enjoyable, playful way with the Mira Activity Tracker, Omron’s beautiful high tech bracelet that captures your daily activity. The sleek fitness tracker looks like jewelry but quietly gathers your daily steps and distance walked and provides inspiration when you need it most to get moving more. Slap on the bracelet, download the free Mira App and start tracking your movement to be sure you’re getting enough physical fitness to prevent heart disease.