Preventive Health: Myths and facts about cardiovascular health

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Doctor Elpidio Peña Arroyo Cardiologist-Echocardiographer Department of Cardiology HGPS

Source: Newspaper Today

MYTH: It means that the heart stops beating.
REALITY: It is not a cardiac arrest, but the heart does not have the strength to pump blood as the body needs.
MYTH: It is a rare condition.
REALITY: It affects 1-2 % of the general population, but it becomes more common with age, reaching 10 % in those over 70 years of age. It is the main cause of hospitalization in patients over 65 years of age.
MYTH: It is a mild disease, almost normal in old age.
REALITY: It has a poor prognosis and is expensive. Many heart conditions, when not properly treated, can eventually lead to heart failure, but if treated, we avoid this serious complication in 80 % cases.
MYTH: There is no effective treatment.
REALITY: The medications that are indicated achieve compensation for symptoms, reduce the need for admission and prolong life.
MYTH: Exercise is prohibited.
REALITY: After treatment is installed, physical activity improves symptoms and prognosis, but intense exercises are not prudent.
This also holds true for heart attack survivors, in whom exercise improves coronary circulation and heart strength.
In both cases, it is highly recommended that they enter a personalized cardiac rehabilitation program.
Dyslipidemias
MYTH: A fat-free diet prevents heart disease.
REALITY: This is valid when it comes to saturated fats, especially trans fats, but good fats, such as unsaturated fats and those rich in Omega 3, are protective.
MYTH: Only if cholesterol is very high are statins used.
REALITY: These medications not only lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood; They also slow down the process of atherosclerosis and decrease inflammation of the arteries, leading to an acute attack. It is for this reason that they are indicated to patients at risk, even though cholesterol is normal.
MYTH: If there is no heart condition, the statin is suspended when the cholesterol level returns to normal.
REALITY: Just as the pressure increases if we stop taking the antihypertensives, the cholesterol rises again if we stop the statins.
MYTH: Diet and exercise are enough to control LDL cholesterol, even if it is very high.
REALITY: In this case, statin treatment is necessary, because the diet only explains 25 % of cholesterol; the other 75 % is produced by the liver.
MYTH: Cardiovascular disease only appears if it is frequent in the family.
REALITY: Hereditary factors predispose to cardiovascular diseases, but in 90 % of cases their development is explained by lifestyle.
MYTHS: There are superfoods that prevent cardiovascular problems.
REALITY: The recommended is a healthy and varied diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, which reduces cardiovascular risk.
MYTH: Statins damage the liver and muscles.
REALITY: Sometimes they cause alterations in the enzymes of these tissues, easily detectable with routine analysis; but they rarely do harm.
This does not compare with the excellent results shown worldwide in prolonging the life of cardiovascular patients.

FREQUENT MYTHS

MYTH: After having a heart attack, let's say goodbye to sex.
REALITY: Sexual intercourse is a moderate physical activity, similar to climbing two floors of stairs. The cardiologist will guide when to resume sexual life, generally within one month of the event. Carrying out a stress test will be very helpful in making this decision.
MYTH: Stenting or by-pass surgery cures coronary heart disease.
REALITY: These procedures uncover coronary obstructions that pose an imminent risk of heart attack, but do not stop the process of atherosclerosis that is affecting all the coronary arteries and that subsequently lead to new obstructions. Medical treatment and lifestyle changes are what are going to stop this process.
MYTH: The heart does not hurt.
REALITY: The most important cause is heart attack, which produces characteristically oppressive pain, which does not subside with rest. Given such a picture, he must be transferred to an emergency, where muscular, skeletal, pulmonary, neurological causes or involvement of the pericardium or pleura will also be ruled out.

Age and hypertension

MYTH: It is normal for the elderly to have high blood pressure.
REALITY: Uncontrolled hypertension also predisposes to heart attack and stroke in older people.
MYTH: Cardiovascular prevention is unnecessary in youth.
REALITY: The lifestyle that is lived in youth is decisive for diseases that will appear in later stages of life.
MYTH: Antihypertensives do harm if taken for many years.
REALITY: These drugs do not lead to addiction or accumulate, so there is no time limit for consuming them.
MYTH: Antihypertensives affect sexual activity.
REALITY: For decades, the drugs used to treat hypertension have not affected sexual function and are compatible with a physically and mentally active life. In any case, this effect was always reversible, so that upon stopping the medication, normal function was restored.
MYTH: Hypertensive people cannot take Viagra.
REALITY: The use of Viagra is not dangerous in hypertensive patients. Caution is advised in case of cardiovascular disease and should not be used if you are under nitrate treatment.

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