Even though a lot of women are well-acquainted with the pink ribbons that call attention to breast cancer, just a few of them know that February is American Heart Month, when the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign strives to bring visibility to heart disease in women, which is actually the leading cause of death in females. Here, we are going to present you the most common myths about women’s heart health, as well as why understanding the truth is crucial for reducing your risk.
Myth 1: Heart disease is a man’s disease.
In fact, diseases connected with the heart often disproportionately affect women. Since 1984, heart disease has claimed the lives of more women than men. Women are significantly less likely than men to survive their first heart attack. Still, this threat has not appeared to sink in for most young women. Just 7% of women view the heart disease as their greatest heart concern, compared to 34% who view the breast cancer as their major risk.
Myth 2: I’m young and I don’t have to worry about heart disease yet.
In premenopausal women, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease is low. The reason of this is the partially protective effects of estrogen. But, the primary risk factors for heart disease, which are usually high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as diabetes, can appear in women in their 20s. The lifestyle choices which we make early on, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating healthy, actually can prevent these risk factors, as well as dramatically cut our likelihood of developing heart disease later. But, this does not mean those lifestyle modifications have to be major. For example, when it comes to exercise, all you need is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week.
Myth 3: Women with heart disease have symptoms.
About 64% of women who have suffered from heart attacks experienced either no symptoms or some nonspecific symptoms before they had the attack. Although the hallmark signal is chest pain, some vague symptoms, like sleep disturbance, fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath are actually more likely to occur in women than in men. In order to know how to interpret such symptoms, understanding your personal risk is crucial. All the major medical guidelines recommend screening for cardiovascular risk factors at least once in early adulthood. So, if you still haven’t had your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure checked, you should visit your doctor soon.
Myth 4: A low – fat diet helps in preventing heart disease.
One theory that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet promotes heart health is actually one that the sugar industry led us to believe for years. But, one recent study of over 7,000 people found that those who were asked to supplement a Mediterranean diet with some additional fat from either olive oil or nuts had about 30% fewer cardiovascular events, which was compared to people who have followed a fat-restricted diet. The key is actually focusing on unsaturated fats, which are found in nuts, avocado, as well as vegetable oils, and also avoiding the trans fats, which are commonly found in some processed foods.
Myth 5: Birth control also increases the risk of heart diseases.
One study from the year 2012, which involved more than 1.6 million women did indeed find that low-dose oral contraceptive pills appeared to confer a 50% increased risk of heart attack. But, the rate of cardiovascular experiences in reproductive-aged women was so rare that an increase of this magnitude actually translates to just one additional heart attack per 10,000 women. If you also have some other factors for heart disease, particularly if you are a smoker, it will be worth to visit your doctor and talk about alternative contraceptive methods. But for those women who are healthy and are in their 20s and early 30s, there is actually no need to worry.