10 Common Heart Disease Myths

Close-up of an elderly man's hand held his chest in pain. Concept of heart disease.

When it comes to heart disease, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction. Though there are plenty of headlines you might be reading, focusing on false information can be dangerous for both your heart and overall health.

So, what can you do? Take a look at the top myths top UK heart experts see when it comes to heart disease. We’re here to set the record straight!

Heart attacks and cardiac arrest are the same things

Not true. A heart attack is different from cardiac arrest. Dr. Martyn Thomas, Director of Cardiovascular Services at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, states that coronary heart disease (CHD) causes most heart attacks.

With CHD, one or more coronary arteries become blocked due to the build-up of fat deposits called atheroma. This blockage prevents the heart from getting the blood supply it needs to function properly, causing a heart attack.

According to the British Heart Foundation, cardiac arrest happens when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body. When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen. This causes you to fall unconscious and stop breathing.

Most people experiencing a heart attack are still conscious, whereas those experiencing cardiac arrest are typically unconscious. Both are severe emergencies and require medical attention as quickly as possible. Call 999 right away should you ever believe you or someone you know is experiencing either of these heart problems.

If you’re active, you won’t have heart disease

Though exercising, eating whole foods, and avoiding smoking and drinking certainly reduce your risk of heart disease, they won’t completely prevent the problem. Other factors impact your heart health, including family history, discussed below.

Fit individuals can still struggle with high cholesterol or blood pressure, which is why it’s important to schedule regular appointments with your doctor to catch any acute symptoms or changes in your body.

Coughing can save your life

Ever heard that if you’re having a heart attack, you should try coughing it out? Unfortunately, this isn’t something you should do should you be experiencing a heart attack. There is no concrete medical evidence that supports the idea of coughing to reduce symptoms of a heart attack.

Instead, if you’re having a heart attack, call 999 immediately. This way, paramedics can help and take you to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Only men have to worry about heart disease

Heart disease is one of the UK’s leading causes of death and kills twice as many women in the UK as breast cancer.

If you’re a woman, it’s important to take the risks and causes of heart disease seriously. Believing heart disease only impacts men leads to a lack of awareness about the problems that come with it, reducing your chances of survival should anything happen to you.

Both men and women should speak with their doctors about heart disease and how they can stay on top of their heart health. Following the medical recommendations you’re given is a smart way to prevent heart problems.

If you don’t feel chest pain, you’re okay

The British Heart Foundation notes that though chest pain is common, you can have a heart attack without experiencing any symptoms at all.

We outline a handful of key symptoms to look out for here [link to other blog when published], so take a look and make sure you’re aware of the things that could indicate a heart attack.

Pain in your back, dizziness, and extreme fatigue can all suggest that your heart is having problems. Should you be experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to call 999 as soon as possible.

I’ll be able to feel it if I have high blood pressure

As scary as it might sound, high blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because many people aren’t aware that they have it. You might not experience any specific symptoms yet still be struggling with high blood pressure.

The smartest thing to do is speak with your doctor about a simple blood pressure test. This way, you’ll know if it’s something you need to pay more attention to and can follow the recommendations provided by a medical professional.

Ignoring your blood pressure could lead to a heart attack, stroke, and other life-altering health problems.

Heart disease is only a concern for those aged 60+

Thinking that heart disease is only a problem for older people is a common misconception. Though it’s true that your risk of heart disease increases with age, there are plenty of other factors that can impact the overall health of your heart.

The arteries in your heart can start to build up when you’re younger, especially if you have diabetes or smoke. Consult with your doctor about the lifestyle choices you should be making to keep heart disease at bay.

If your family has heart disease, you will too

Yes, family history can play a role in your risk of heart disease, but as mentioned before, it’s not the only factor to pay attention to. Your lifestyle choices, from eating to exercising to substance use, can all impact your heart health.

Your genetics might increase your risk, but this doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and adopt a negative mindset around heart disease. Instead, talk with your doctor about a heart disease prevention plan so you can minimise your overall risk regardless of your family history.

If your heart beats too fast, you’re having a heart attack

It’s normal for your heart rate to change as you exercise, feel stressed, or even sleep. These changes aren’t a cause for concern unless they happen frequently and consistently.

An uptick in your heart rate isn’t a clear indication of a heart attack. However, should this become a common occurrence, especially if you’re not doing any strenuous activity, speak with your doctor as this may be a sign of an arrhythmia.

Fats are bad for your heart

Saturated fats should certainly not be a staple in your diet, but unsaturated fats provide a handful of health benefits. Be sure to check the amount of saturated fat in your food and read each label carefully.

Foods such as fish, nuts, and olive oil are good staples to add to your diet, as they’re full of heart-healthy fats. Just remember that moderation is vital for most foods, as too much of a good thing can harm your body.

At home ECG test

If you’re worried you might be dealing with a heart problem, now’s the time to act. Our fit-at-home ECG test is an easy way for you to access the fast, reliable test results that could save your life.

Learn more about ECG At Home and forget having to wait on an NHS waiting list. Instead, work with our experts to identify any heart problems you might be facing.

Still have questions when it comes to heart disease? That’s what we’re here for. Send us a message and we’ll help you stay informed when it comes to your heart.