5 Myths About Heart Health

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5 Myths About Heart Health

What you think you know about heart health may hurt you.

Here's the truth behind some myths, confusing health headlines and changing recommendations.

Heart problems are more common than most people realize, but so are heart health myths. Get the facts about heart disease from these experts.

Myth 1
I'm too young to worry about heart disease.

According to Cardiovascular Center Medical Director Raj Wick, MD, Cardiology: If you think you're too young for a heart attack, think again. One-half of the victims of sudden cardiac death are under the age of 65.

Every year about 40,000 American women under age 55 are hospitalized for heart disease. What's more, younger women's heart attacks are twice as fatal as men's. In fact, women age 35 to 44 are the only group of Americans whose coronary heart disease mortality is rising.

Myth 2
Heart attacks start with chest pain.
According to M. Kevin Ariani, MD, Interventional Cardiology: Of the women who had heart attacks, 70 percent experienced no chest pain at all. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. Women and men may experience atypical symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Back or jaw pain
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Throat discomfort
  • Burping or feeling like indigestion
  • 71 percent of women report flu-like symptoms for two to four weeks prior to having more acute chest discomfort
  • More signs of a heart attack

Myth 3
Smoking hurts lungs, not hearts.

According to Raluca Arimie, MD, Cardiology: You're at risk for lung disease if you smoke. You're also two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than a nonsmoker. However, the benefits of quitting smoking start the minute you quit – no matter your age, how long you have smoked or how many cigarettes a day you have smoked.

Only one year after quitting, your heart attack risk will have dropped by 50 percent. In 10 years, it will be the same as if you never smoked.

Many people seek help to quit smoking and have found the American Cancer Society’s Fresh Start Smoking Cessation Program at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital to be successful, as well as stop-smoking aids such as nicotine patches and gum, stop-smoking medication and the Smokers Helpline.

Myth 4
Exercising three times a week is enough to maintain heart health.

According to Jahandar Saleh, MD, Cardiology: It's a good start, but it's not the ultimate goal. New recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association recommend a moderate to vigorous level of exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week (2.5 hours) plus muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups or sit-ups. Increase this amount if you're trying to lose weight.

Myth 5
Any hospital can treat heart disease or a heart attack.
According to Medical Staff President Zouheir Elias, MD, Cardiology: It’s important to research hospitals, before you need them. Every minute counts when dealing with heart problems. Here’s what to look for:

  • 24-hour emergency cardiac care or a Chest Pain Center like at Northridge Hospital
  • Capabilities to perform angioplasty.
  • A state-designated STEMI Heart Attack Center (Northridge Hospital was one of the first certified in the state).
  • Outcome data. Our CardioVascular Center is a five-star award recipient for treatment of heart attack in 2014 and a five-star award recipient for treatment of heart failure for five years in a row.
  • Facilities that invest in the latest technology means better outcomes for patients.

Northridge Hospital’s commitment to provide the best possible care has led to investments such as the advanced Siemens Hybrid Bi-Plane OR Suite where cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons work closely together all in one room, making the transition from catheter-based interventions to open surgry seamless.

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Northridge, CA 91328
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