Common Heart Health Misconceptions That You Should Know

February marked an important month for heart health with two key events—that’s in addition to Valentine’s Day.

19-25 February was Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week and the whole month was REDFEB’s Heart Research Month.

As many of our patients know, the Duff Street Medical Clinic community is big on heart health

Heart health affects us all. No matter your gender, age or lifestyle, maintaining a healthy health has a massive impact on your quality of life.

We mentioned ‘lifestyle’ above because genetics, cholesterol and stress all play huge roles in heart health in addition to physical fitness.

That means no matter someone’s physical appearance, they could still be at risk of cardiovascular problems.

As such, we’ve put together these common heart health misconceptions that you should know.

Misconception 1: Heart disease is inevitable if it runs in your family

Just because heart disease may run in your family doesn’t mean it’s inevitable for you.

While genetics play a role, sometimes a big one, lifestyle choices like diet and exercise are equally important.

Regardless of family history, prioritising heart health through healthy habits can significantly reduce your risk.

Focus on proactive measures and healthy choices rather than resigning to fate.

People with heart disease in their family should keep up with their regular check-ups as finding the early signs, many of which don’t make themselves noticeable at first, means a better chance of treatment.

Misconception 2: Young, healthy people don’t need to monitor their heart health

Even if you’re young and feel healthy, monitoring your heart health is crucial. Heart issues can develop at any age, and prevention is key.

Ignoring heart health could lead to problems down the line, regardless of your current state of wellbeing.

Ignoring heart health means poor choices, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eating a lot of processed food
  • Minimal or no exercise
  • High-stress lifestyle
  • Not having regular check-ups

Misconception 3: Stress doesn’t affect heart health

This is a common one, and a problematic one. Despite feeling healthy, stress can significantly impact heart health.

Chronic stress can elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.

In case you were wondering, “chronic” means health conditions lasting 3 months or more.

That means going through a stressful time in life, such as a divorce, family problems, financial strain, and of course stress at work, can negatively impact heart health.

Acknowledging the connection between stress and heart health is something doctors often try to, well, stress to patients.

Managing stress through relaxation techniques and healthy coping mechanisms is important for maintaining a healthy heart.

If you’re going through what you deem as a stressful time for an extended period of time, Duff Street Medical Clinic is here to help.

Misconception 4: The warning signs of poor heart health may just be something else

Even if symptoms seem minor or unrelated, they could signal poor heart health.

Ignoring warning signs can delay necessary medical attention and worsen the condition.

It’s important not to dismiss or write off symptoms as “just been under the weather lately”, and to talk to a medical professional if you’re even slightly concerned about possible symptoms.

So, what are the symptoms of poor heart health?

Poor heart health symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain: This can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the centre or left side of the chest. It may come and go or persist
  • Shortness of breath: Especially with exercise or when lying down
  • Fatigue: Unexplained fatigue or weakness, especially if it’s sudden or severe
  • Dizziness: Feeling dizzy, faint, or lightheaded can indicate a drop in blood pressure
  • Palpitations: Sensations of rapid, fluttering, or pounding heartbeats
  • Swelling: Swelling in the legs, ankles, feet
  • Nausea or indigestion: Similar to heartburn-like symptoms
  • Sweating: Cold sweats, particularly accompanied by other symptoms
  • Unexplained weight gain: Sudden weight gain, due to fluid retention

Of course, there can be other explanations for such symptoms, especially if you experience only one for a very short time, however, it’s always best to stay on top of heart health.

Speak to us if you experience any of the above, and in terms of weight gain, we put strong emphasis on maintaining a healthy weight with our popular 12-week weight loss program.

Misconception 5: Heart disease is mainly caused by smoking and a diet high in junk food

This one isn’t too far from the truth as a poor diet high in cholesterol and processed junk food and especially smoking, can indeed influence poor heart health and disease.

But it’s not solely caused by these factors.

Genetics, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, and stress also play significant roles. Heart disease can be caused by a huge range of factors.

It’s well known that non-smoking, fit and active people can suffer from heart problems.

A positive, proactive approach to heart health, including healthy lifestyle choices and regular check-ups, can help mitigate these risks.

Misconception 6: Doctors only check your heartbeat during a check-up

It’s pretty common for a doctor to put a stethoscope on a patient’s chest to check their heartbeat during a check-up, that’s certainly correct.

They do this for a few reasons, one being that should your heartbeat not sound how it’s meant to (regular and healthy), your doctor will take additional steps to address it.

This means that when your doctor listens to your heartbeat and moves onto something else, they’ve likely concluded that your heart is functioning correctly.

Other reasons to check heart rhythms are that they are so vital for your body’s healthy functioning.

Monitoring vital signs, for example your heart rate, is a vital sign that reflects the body’s overall health.

Monitoring heartbeats during check-ups helps doctors evaluate a patient’s general wellbeing and can provide important information about factors such as stress levels, physical fitness, and hydration.

Heart health in summary

There’s no denying that a healthy heart is a key ingredient of a happy, active high-quality lifestyle.

Keeping up to date with your heart’s health is an important part of everyone’s heath routine, and especially crucial if:

  • Your lifestyle isn’t as healthy as it could (should) be
  • You smoke or regularly consume alcohol, especially excessively
  • You have a family history of heart issues
  • You have a sedentary lifestyle or get minimal exercise
  • You suffer from high stress

Duff Street Medical Clinic is here to help should you be concerned about your health and wellbeing.