Myths About Heart Problems

“Heart Diseases occur majorly in men. Only cancer affects women”. “I am too young to suffer from any heart condition, it only occurs in old age”, have you hear such statements? It is not uncommon that people often have such misconceptions. There are many assumptions people make about their hearts from who can develop heart diseases to how it feels to have a heart attack.

Heart diseases are the world’s no.1 killer and UAE is no exception. The incidence of heart disease is alarming in the Dubai with 30% of deaths accounting to those caused by heart conditions. Various risk factors including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and unhealthy lifestyle practices result in diseases of the heart. As per results of the Dubai Health Survey 2016, 21.9% of the population of Dubai are smokers. As for other chronic health conditions among Emiratis in Dubai, 20% males and 18% females suffer from hypertension and 19.8% of Emirati men and 18.5% of Emirati women suffer from high cholesterol.

World Heart Day is celebrated every year in order to create awareness among people about cardiovascular conditions, stroke and various other conditions of the heart. World Heart Day 2017 goes by the theme ‘Share The Power’ in order to enable people to take control of their heart and make simple lifestyle modifications that will go a long way in having a strong and healthy heart enabling a healthy life ahead.

People need to be educated and informed about their heart and ways to keep it healthy. To aid the same, it is essential to bust a few common myths revolving around the human heart and its health. People need to understand that their health should be a priority and that the heart is at the center of their health. A few of the common myths about heart health are;

Heart diseases are caused in the elderly

Anybody can suffer from a heart disease. It is true that the risk of developing heart conditions increase with age. However, the lifestyle choices you make during the early years result in how your health shapes up during the later years. Some heart conditions can be congenital, others could be diagnosed at birth. Some other heart conditions occur in people of any age group.

You will not develop heart conditions if you are in good shape physically

Regular physical activity is extremely important to keep your risks at bay. However being physical active is one aspect of preventing heart conditions. High cholesterol, sugar, genetic factors etc. also play a role in causing heart conditions. Ensure a regular visit to a specialist in order to know your risk factors and ways of controlling them.

I don’t have any symptoms so I wouldn’t have a heart problem

Heart conditions need not necessarily be caused with visible symptoms. One of the most common risk factors for heart diseases is hypertension, which is also called ‘the silent killer’. Many times people do not realize that they are hypertensive because of the lack of any symptoms. The only way to know is by consulting with a specialist and understanding your risk factors. Do not wait until your body give you signs.

Fats are bad for the heart

Your body needs all the essential nutrients to stay healthy and function effectively. It is true that bad and unhealthy fats from fried foods, saturated fats must be avoided. However fat from vegetable oils and nuts, fish are beneficial for the body and must be included in the diet.

Heart diseases occur mostly in men

This is one of the most common misconceptions that heart diseases occur majorly in men and cancer is most commonly found in women. Studies show that more number of women are affected by heart diseases than men. Heart diseases affect men and women equally.

Quitting smoking will not help if you have been a chain smoker

Quitting tobacco usage in any form is always the best step towards taking care of your health. Even if you have been smoking for years, it is never too late to quit. The benefits of quitting smoking will begin to show within months after quitting. Seek help professionally if you find it difficult to quit smoking.

If I have a heart attack, I will have a chest pain

It is movies and media that have instilled in our minds the concept that severe chest pain is the symptom of heart attack. Heart conditions may present any symptoms, for instance a pain in the leg which we would consider to be caused by age, could be caused due to Peripheral Artery Disease, a condition caused by blocked arteries in the leg. Chest pain or discomfort could be an indication in some people, but heart attack symptoms vary from person to person. Chest pain may or may not always be a symptom.

A small heart attack is okay

A small heart attack is sometimes no big deal as it may even go unnoticed. However, it is still called a heart attack and not a heart diseases because the impact of the disease on one’s health is significant. It is a big warning sign for you to know that you may be suffering from a serious heart condition which could progress into a much complicated condition unless treated.

Little steps towards changing the way you live will go a long way in ensuring that you lead a healthy life. Eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, avoiding second hand smoke and ensuring regular physical activity are key factors in preventing heart diseases and controlling risk factors. Heart diseases are on the risk in the UAE, these conditions are be prevented with consistent healthy habits. This World Heart Day, let us all promise to do what it takes to start, to have a healthy heart!

Dr. Arun Asok Cheriyan 

Specialist Cardiologist 

Aster Hospital Mankhool